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Professor who championed extreme COVID measures to lead AMA medical journal
Eli Perencevic

New editor of JAMA Network Open criticized for supporting COVID lockdowns

The American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open has appointed as its new editor in chief a professor who advocated for COVID-19 lockdowns, masks and other measures that have now been shown to have been largely ineffective.

Dr. Eli Perencevich, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, will take on the role July 1, replacing current editor Dr. Frederick Rivara, according to a JAMA news release.

“My vision is that JAMA Network Open will be a sounding board for clinicians, investigators, and policy makers across all health disciplines,” Perencevich stated.

The medical journal publishes research about “clinical care, innovation in health care, health policy, and global health across all health disciplines and countries,” according to its website.

However, Perencevich’s appointment drew criticism from scholars online over the past week, many voicing concerns about his views on COVID-19.

“Bad news,” University of California San Francisco Professor Vinay Prasad responded on X.

“Someone who was pro masking toddlers, pro school closure, pro lockdown and anti RCTs takes over. Will have to submit elsewhere. Sad,” Prasad, a medical doctor, wrote.

Others pointed to evidence of the negative effects of school closures and other COVID-19 mandates.

Austrian sociologist Muriel Blaive, a professor at the University of Graz, wrote on X that Perencevich may contradict his past statements “now that the Covid narrative is unraveling.”

“… odds are that he will soon have forgotten all his previous statements and will claim he has always been against masks and lockdowns,” Blaive wrote.

Benjamin Ryan, a health and science journalist who writes for the New York Times, NBC News, and other publications, wrote in an X post some of the things Perencevich advocated for actually proved harmful.

“Many are distressed that Dr. Eli Perencevich is the new editor in chief of JAMA Network Open,” Ryan wrote. “He was a strong proponent of mask mandates and school closures. These Covid mitigation measures have not been shown to have been particularly effective and have harmed kids.”

Perencevich did not respond to an email Tuesday from The College Fix asking for his response to the criticism.

The Iowa doctor supported mask mandates in schools in an interview with the Iowa Capital Dispatch in 2020. In another interview with the Dispatch that same year, he warned against churches re-opening and allowing singing during services.

“We don’t have public health in the state of Iowa,” Perencevich said at the time. “We aren’t doing any of the recommended measures or allowing localities to take action on their own. Unfortunately, politicians are making these decisions, not health professionals.”

He also criticized Iowa government leaders for not issuing more mandates during the initial outbreak in an interview with The Atlantic that year.

Additionally, Perencevich co-authored an article published in April 2020 in JAMA highlighting research that found “bans on public gatherings, compulsory stay-at-home policies, mandating closures of schools and nonessential businesses, face mask ordinances, quarantine” and other measures can “quickly reduce COVID-19 transmission if applied effectively.”

MORE: School reopenings only minimally contribute to COVID spread: study

IMAGE: Prevention & Infection Control Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève/YouTube

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.