Emails show journal arguments before rejecting paper challenging Pfizer’s claim of 95% vaccine efficacy

Officials at a major journal discussed the professor’s alleged anti-vaccine Twitter activity when considering whether to publish his paper, which disputes Pfizer’s claim that the vaccine is 95% effective.

The Lancet eventually rejected the rebuttal paper.

Professor Norman Fenton “retweeted an anti-vaxx post on Twitter,” a Lancet official wrote to a colleague.

They also discussed “vaccine misinformation” and Fenton’s background.

“[redacted] “I did a little research on him and it looks like he has a legitimate academic appointment,” said one email, titled “Monitoring Ongoing Issues.”

Fenton, Emeritus Professor of Risk Studies at Queen Mary University of London, Email From Elsevier, publishing The Lancet.

“I knew that all major academic journals routinely rejected articles that in some way questioned the accuracy of studies claiming vaccine efficacy or safety. What even surprised us was the sheer awkwardness and unprofessionalism displayed by the journal’s editorial staff,” Fenton told The Epoch Times in an email.

“The idea that the author’s educational background and Twitter activity had to be explored as part of the peer review process is shocking,” he added.

The Lancet did not respond to a request for comment.

claim of validity

The Lancet for May 2021 has been published paper From Israeli officials and Pfizer employees who claimed the company’s vaccine was 95% effective against COVID-19 infections in Israel from January 24, 2021 to April 3, 2021.

The study analyzed surveillance data drawn from government-funded insurance companies. Pfizer and Israel struck multiple deals in the early days of the pandemic under which countries primarily used the company’s vaccines and shared data with the company.

In this study, two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were associated with symptomatic, asymptomatic, and COVID-19-related hospitalization, severe illness, and It was shown to be “very effective” in preventing death. Peer-reviewed research prior to publication.

“These findings suggest that COVID-19 vaccination could help control the pandemic,” they said.

This study was funded by the Israeli Ministry of Health and Pfizer.


Estimates of effectiveness are exaggerated, write Fenton and Martin Neal, Professor of Computer Science and Statistics at Queen Mary, London. quick response on paper.

This is partly because unvaccinated people are routinely tested for COVID-19, and adjustments have been made to how unvaccinated people are routinely tested. the professors said.

“It also may not be well adjusted to different testing protocols for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals,” they wrote.

The Lancet told the professors that he was waiting to hear from the authors of the paper before publishing his counterarguments.

No further correspondence was sent until January 2023.


Josefine Gibson, Senior Editor of The Lancet, wrote on January 8, 2023: e-mail She learned that the rebuttal filed had not been made public.

“I have invited Dr. Sharon Allroy-Pryce and the co-authors of the published article to consider your letter, but I am sorry that I have not been able to pursue an exchange as I have not received a formal response from them. I think,” Gibson wrote. . Alroy-Preis is a senior official in the Israeli Ministry of Health.

“However, it is even more disappointing that we did not communicate our decision in a timely manner. This concludes your submission, but we thank you for supporting the post-publication discussion in The Lancet,” Gibson said. Added.

Fenton published the email online, sparking a flood of criticism over his decision not to publish the rebuttal. Alroy-Preis said it had not declared any conflicts of interest.

“While the world relied heavily on a major Israeli study at The Lancet that confirmed the efficacy of Pfizer’s vaccine, the lead author signed an agreement not to publish information harmful to Pfizer’s products without permission. We did not declare any conflict of interest,” Fenton said.wrote Neil blog post.

This criticism sparked another message from Gibson, who said the Lancet was “considering next steps” regarding the rebuttal.

offer to publish

After Fenton highlighted what happened to Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton, Gibson told him he wanted to apologize “for the substandard experience you had at The Lancet.”

“After discussing this unfortunate situation with our Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, we would like to offer to publish your first letter, or to publish a new letter that better reflects our current experience with Pfizer Vaccines. I will use your best judgment as to what will best serve the medical community,” she said. “I hope you will accept this offer.”

Fenton and Neil wrote their latest rebuttal, stating that the Pfizer-Israel study should be retracted for reasons including undeclared conflicts with Alroy-Preis and failure to adjust to various testing protocols. concluded. They also expressed concern about adverse reactions to the vaccine, which they said were now known to be “substantial.”

Gibson rejected the updated rebuttal.

“Given the existing evidence about the efficacy and safety of Pfizer vaccines, it is factually incorrect to say that reported adverse reactions are ‘substantial’ – in fact, it is misinformed.

The Lancet also does not view Alroy Price’s work at the Israeli Ministry of Health as an undeclared conflict of interest, Gibson said.

new email

This situation prompted Fenton to seek internal communications regarding him.

The email was prompted by Fenton’s publication of Gibson’s letter of apology.

The tranche was heavily edited, but it showed how officials considered official statements about the vaccine.

“Both Fenton [redacted] One email said, referring to Fenton and Neil. “[redacted] An expert in determining whether his criticisms of Fenton’s original letters and articles are valid and meet our publication standards.”

The email recommends withholding further communication with Fenton pending confirmation of the redacted information. “Especially given that anything I say directly to Fenton could be shared.”

In a separate letter, officials said there had been new developments in the “Fenton Twitter case,” including additional posts by Fenton and “informative background about Fenton.” The rest of the email has been redacted.

At the time, officials said Fenton was investigated and found to have a “legitimate academic appointment.”[redacted] The source of the vaccine misinformation is an academic professor right around the corner from Lancet’s office. “

Officials then suggested what became the final response to reject the updated submission. They revised the answer to change “relevant side effects” to “reported side effects”.

dissatisfied with editing

Fenton said many of the edits seemed unnecessary and asked Elsevier to remove them.

“I am not happy with the scale of the edits in Elsevier’s response. If the Lancet editors were not making comments that defame me or my colleagues, there should be no reason to edit them. What do I have to hide?” he wrote to Substack.

“The Lancet is hiding internal communications related to the submission (and eventual rejection) of our letter criticizing Pfizer,” Neil wrote on Twitter. They are happy to let you know they consider you a faction or a ‘misinformation spreader’!”

Fenton said he informed Elsevier that if it did not remove many of the edits, he would report them to the Information Commissioner’s office.

Elsevier did not respond to a request for comment.