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Ciptapangan Visitor
China Scientists Back Publication Of Bird-Flu Letter
posted by admin on 26/06/06

By ROBERT TOMSHO

June 26, 2006

BOSTON -- The New England Journal of Medicine said a Chinese co-author of a letter about avian flu has said his research group didn't seek to withdraw the letter before it was published in the medical journal's current edition.

The letter by eight Chinese scientists described a study of a Chinese man originally thought to have died of severe acute respiratory syndrome in late 2003. The study found the man had died from bird flu instead. The Chinese government didn't acknowledge having its first case of bird flu until 2005.

On Wednesday the journal said the researchers had sent it emails asking that their letter not be published. Although the related edition had already been printed, journal editors tried to contact the researchers for an explanation.

Friday, the journal said it had been contacted by telephone by Wu-Chun Cao, one of the letter's co-authors. Karen Pedersen, a journal spokeswoman, said Dr. Cao told a journal editor he hadn't sent the emails and that his group stood by the letter. Dr. Cao, a researcher at the State Key Laboratory of Pathogens and Biosecurity in Beijing, also faxed the journal a signed affidavit attesting to that fact, Ms. Pedersen said.

Dr. Cao didn't respond to an email seeking comment.

Some international health officials suspect the death toll from bird flu in China could be higher than reported and the Chinese government has been sensitive to criticism that it isn't fully cooperating with the global fight against the disease.

Write to Robert Tomsho at rob.tomsho@wsj.com

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