COVID-19 spike protein paper withdrawn – Retraction Watch
COVID-19 spike protein paper withdrawn – Retraction Watch

COVID-19 spike protein paper withdrawn – Retraction Watch

It took about five months, but a virological journal has withdrawn an article on the microbe that causes COVID-19 after labeling it with an expression of concern back in December.

As we reported at the timethe newspaper, “SARS-CoV-2 Spike Impairs DNA Damage Repair and Inhibits V (D) J Recombination In Vitro”, was a hit among vaccine skeptics who used the article to substantiate their claims that Covid vaccines are unsafe.

The newspaper, which appeared in MDPI’s Virusgenerated enough buzz on social media and in the news to get into the top 5% of all articles tracked by Altmetric. This Week in Virology, a podcast on, yes, virology, devoted part of an episode of the show to deconstructing the results.

But as the magazine noted last year:

One of the authors has raised concerns regarding the method used in the study, the conclusions drawn and the insufficient consideration of laboratory staff and resources.

In order to maintain the highest scientific standards, an in-depth study of the responsible editorial boards is initiated together with the journal’s editorial staff in collaboration with the editorial board and in accordance with the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) guidance. The article will be updated and any necessary corrections will be made at the end of the review process.

To the update has arrived:

The published article [1] has been withdrawn. Following the publication, the first author contacted the editorial staff regarding an incorrect experimental design with the potential to significantly affect the integrity of the resulting experimental data.

In accordance with our complaint procedure, an investigation was conducted. Both the chosen design of the peak plasmid containing a C-terminal fused to 6xHis tag and the use of a GFP reporter system under overexpression conditions in the protocol were identified as having the potential to introduce significant ambiguity as to the nature of the reported observations. The reliability of the presented results and conclusions has therefore been undermined. Furthermore, statements about the effect of the tip protein on the adaptive immunity are misleading, as no experiments related to the adaptive immunity were performed in this article and the full-length tip-based vaccine was not studied. Therefore, conclusions related to vaccine safety have not been validated and lacked experimental support. this article [1] has been withdrawn and must be marked accordingly. This withdrawal was approved by the editor-in-chief of the journal Viruses.

The authors did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [See update at the end of the post.]

The article has been cited seven times, including at least twice since the expression of concern appeared, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

It does 226 withdrawals of COVID-19 papers after our count.

Update, 5/13/22, 1230 UTC: Co-author Ya-Fang Mei tells us that he “absolutely” disagrees with the withdrawal

due to incorrect information in the reasons for the revocation. In our original article, 6-Histaged Spike at the nucleus and cytoplasm and nucleoprotein at the cytoplasm. If 6-histag affects the localization, the nucleoprotein should also be in the nucleus. Consequently, 6-histag does not affect the nuclear localization.

If the 6-His tag were to cause nuclear localization, hundreds of articles would be wrong about protein biology and they would be withdrawn before our article. Therefore, this reason for withdrawal is actually ridiculous.

I expect the reviewers in the editorial staff to become stronger in their perspectives and knowledge.

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