CDC justified new mask guidance based on vaccine study listed as failing peer review
Journal changes status of submitted India study from “reject” to “revise” after CDC highlights it.
he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited an unpublished study from India to justify its recommendation Tuesday that fully vaccinated people “wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19.
That study, which claimed the Delta variant produced an unusually large viral load in more than 100 vaccinated healthcare workers with “breakthrough infections,” was listed as having failed peer review in the journal Nature when the CDC cited it.
Archives of the study’s page on Research Square, a preprint server for unpublished research, show that it was marked “reject” on July 9 and remained so at least through the evening of July 26, Eastern Daylight Time.
The “reject” status and review notes were removed by mid-morning and replaced with “posted,” suggesting Nature had approved the paper without revisions, which drew controversy on Twitter. The notes were quickly restored and status changed to “revise,” bearing the same date — July 9 — as the original “reject” status.
The @CDCgov is literally wiping comments from the paper they used to change mask guidance. Look at the two screenshots. One from the wayback machine. One from just mins ago.
— District AI (@districtai) July 28, 2021
Research Square addressed the confusion twice around noon Wednesday, blaming “a bug” and “a user interface error on our end.” It said the paper was still under review “and the current editorial decision is ‘Revise.'”
The review notes disappeared again from the “peer review timeline” later in the afternoon, leaving only a “current status” classification of the paper as “under review.” Research Square also posted a revised header clarifying that the paper was being considered by “a Nature Portfolio Journal,” not necessarily the flagship journal, and that it partners with the publisher on “a journal-integrated preprint deposition service.”