The Lancet has issued a statement regarding a letter sent by President Donald Trump to the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In the letter, President Trump says a review of the WHO’s response to the pandemic, conducted by his administration, found the WHO “consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal”.
However, the Lancet says “this statement is factually incorrect”. The Lancet published no report in December 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China. The first reports the journal published were on January 24, 2020. A paper by Chaolin Huang and colleagues, described the first 41 COVID-19 patients from Wuhan.
A second paper also published on January 24, described the first scientific evidence confirming person-to-person transmission of the new virus.
The Lancet states: “The allegations levelled against WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic. It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January.”