Peer-reviewed journal publishes COVID-19 denier editorial filled with lies

A peer-reviewed neurosurgery journal published a COVID-19 denier editorial that peddled false statements about the COVID-19 pandemic without any scientific and unbiased evidence to support the claims.

I am not sure what possessed the journal to publish a COVID-19 denier article, maybe something to do with false balance or something else, but you know that this article, by appearing in a peer-reviewed journal, will be used by the anti-vaccine forces as a justification for the COVID-19 denier nonsense.

Let’s take a look at this article and refute the claim presented in the COVID-19 denier editorial. This should be easy.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

COVID-19 denier paper

The editorial, by Russell Blaylock, MD, was published on 22 April 2022, in Surgical Neurology International, and included numerous false statements about COVID-19 and the pandemic.

Who is Russell Blaylock? He is a retired neurosurgeon who seems to be attached to right-wing politics. Blaylock currently sells supplements called “Brain Repair Formula” on his website (like many of the other quacks who are COVID-19 deniers) and writes for the conservative news outlet Newsmax.

Blaylock has spread misinformation in the nutrition world, claiming that certain food additives are “excitotoxic” to the brain in normal doses. Many have credited the former neurosurgeon for starting the health scare around monosodium glutamate (MSG is safe) after writing in his 1994 book, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, that it could be linked to brain damage and neurodegenerative diseases.

All you have to know is that he is associated with the  Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a right-wing medical association that is against Medicaid and Medicare, is opposed to national healthcare, is anti-vaccine, denies human-caused climate change, and denies many facts about COVID-19.

The opinion piece, entitled “COVID UPDATE: What is the truth?” stated that the COVID-19 pandemic was “one of the most manipulated infectious disease events in history.” Blaylock claimed that the pandemic was characterized by false information from government officials and medical societies. He also claimed giant pharmaceutical companies are manipulating the media to push false information about the pandemic and vaccines.

Even though this article was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Blaylock did not have any evidence that supported his claims. I’m not sure why Surgical Neurology International published it, but it makes it appear that they tacitly support what he wrote.

He is definitely anti-vaccine, stating that the swine flu was a human-made virus, and promoting cold showers as a remedy to counter the “dangerous effects” of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Cold showers? No, I’m not going to explain.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Refuting Blaylock’s COVID-19 denier claims

To be fair, Blaylock does cite references in his COVID-19 denier opinion piece. Unfortunately, a big chunk of them is from Robert F Kennedy, Jr’s book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. Blaylock says that the Kennedy book is not a reliable source, yet he uses it extensively. It’s kind of hard to overlook that.

Otherwise, Blaylock uses citations that are either conspiracy websites/blogs or actual articles that refute his claims. It’s troubling that the journal accepted this.

Setting that aside, let’s look at some of his other claims.

  • “Hundreds of thousands” of people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine. This is based on a bad analysis of VAERS and should be dismissed out of hand.
  • Masks. Blaylock claims that “wearing a mask for over 4 hours (as occurs in all schools) results in significant hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels) and hypercapnia (high CO2 levels).” However, the source that he cites says that there’s no statistical difference between mask-wearing and non-wearing groups.
  • Advertising. Blaylock claims that “Television media receives the majority of its advertising budget from the international pharmaceutical companies.” The source he uses for this states that Big Pharma spent around US$7 billion on advertising, which is about 3.5% of the total advertising of US$200 billion in the US alone.
  • Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Blaylock claims that “the majority of these deaths could have been prevented had doctors been allowed to use early treatment with such products as Ivermectin, hydroxy-chloroquine and a number of other safe drugs and natural compounds. Hydroxychloroquine does not do anything to treat COVID-19. Neither does the horse dewormer ivermectin.
  • Uterine cancer. Blaylock writes that a physician “found a frighteningly high incidence of highly aggressive cancers in vaccinated individuals, especially highly invasive melanomas in young people and uterine cancers in women.” Where was this published? Natural News, do I need to say more?
  • Anthony Fauci blocked autopsied of people who died after vaccination. I do not know what Blaylock thinks is Dr. Fauci’s power over autopsies, but he has no power over them. It’s just one of the dozens of crazy conspiracy theories in the editorial.

There is so much more, but my brain is losing neurons reading his nonsense. But let me leave you with this screenshot of his vaccine conspiracy:

I could write five articles about this alone. But I won’t waste your time. I have debunked many COVID-19 vaccine myths before.

My thoughts

I have no clue why Surgical Neurology International published Blaylock’s unscientific screed, but they did. Maybe it decided to do it because of their extremely low impact factor of 0.86. That’s one of the lowest I’ve seen in a while, outside of junk predatory journals.

Of course, the journal states that the articles it publishes must be “fact-based,” but added that it “understands that facts may be interpreted differently by different readers.” Facts are facts, they aren’t subject to interpretation. Vaccines are safe and effective, that’s settled science.

Let’s be clear about this article. It is an editorial, it is not based on clinical or epidemiological evidence. It is clear that Blaylock, a true COVID-19 denier, used the platform to push conspiracies, disinformation, and FUD about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. That’s it. This is not science, not even close.

However, I am certain that I will see this referenced by anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 deniers everywhere, and they’ll claim it’s a peer-reviewed article. It is not. And it was published in a minor, not highly respected journal.

Citations


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!