Printed in January 2021 Issue
PLOS ONE has retracted a paper on pneumonia in people with Covid-19 after the authors could not allay concerns about the integrity of their data.
The article, “Lung ultrasound score in establishing the timing of intubation in COVID-19 interstitial pneumonia: A preliminary retrospective observational study,” appeared in September and was written by a group from Zhejiang University School of Medicine, in Hangzhou, China. About three months after publication, PLOS ONE issued an expression of concern about the article, citing suspicious overlap with a 2018 paper in a different journal. It concluded:
The corresponding author [Xiao Lu] agrees there are similarities between the data reported in these articles and indicated they are checking the underlying data.
About that second paper, on which Lu is first author. Titled “Bedside ultrasound assessment of lung reaeration in patients with blunt thoracic injury receiving high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy: a retrospective study,” it has nothing to do with Covid patients, given that it was published two years before the pandemic and involves a completely different kind of lung damage.
According to the retraction notice:
After publication of the Expression of Concern on this article [1, 2], the authors have not provided the underlying data that support the published results. As such we cannot clarify the concerns about the similarities between the articles [1, 3] summarised in the Expression of Concern  and so the PLOS ONE Editors retract this article. XL agreed with the retraction but stands by the published findings. MZ, AQ, LT, and SX either did not respond directly or could not be reached.
We do not deny the questionable points of these data, especially [sic] the patient characteristics at baseline; but we didn’t deliberately fake it or copy the data as we do the study before. I will be responsible for this as the first and Corresponding author.