The University of Hong Kong (HKU) admitted today that it had confirmed the image errors in medical expert Yuen Kwok-yung’s papers, saying disciplinary actions would be imposed on relevant authors according to established procedures.
The speech came after multiple academic papers involving government epidemic advisor and HKU professor Yuen's coronavirus
research were suddenly withdrawn on October 31 as some of the images were discovered to be "more similar than expected to each other".
The relevant papers, the authors of which included Yuen and the former chairman of the university’s department of microbiology Woo Chiu-yat, were published between 2004 and 2014, according to a spokesperson of HKU.
Most of the papers were about studies on the coronavirus
, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and one which was published in 2014 about coronavirus
found in dolphins.
Yuen made apologies over the retraction, saying he took the initiative to contact the journal’s editors for withdrawing the papers, citing the experiments could not be re-conducted as the experimental samples involved were disposed of after the reservation period.
However, he said the papers have not involved the treatment of human bodies, including his core research areas of SARS and Covid
HKU’s spokesperson claimed the university holds strict standards for the capability of faculty in research and integrity.
"All researchers must be dedicated to their academic work to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again," the spokesperson said.