Elsevier subjects entire special issue of journal on COVID-19 to an expression of concern – Retraction Watch

Retraction Watch
Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process
Elsevier has subjected an entire special issue of a journal — including a paper claiming COVID-19 vaccines kill five times more people over 65 than they save — to an expression of concern.
The special issue of Toxicology Reports contained eight articles, including the vaccines paper co-authored by Ronald Kostoff.
Here’s the expression of concern, which is only linked from Kostoff et al’s vaccine paper:
The journal would like to alert readers to the fact that the Special Issue titled “COVID-19 Pandemic: Health impact and Novel research” including the article titled” Why are we vaccinating children against COVID-19?” are being rereviewed post-publication by an independent Editor and a new set of reviewers, due to concerns raised regarding the validity and scientific soundness of the content. Further updates will be provided to readers once the investigations have concluded.
As it has done in the recent past with at least one other paper subject to high levels of scrutiny after publication, Elsevier refers readers to its newsroom for further questions, instead of the editors.
The article was the subject of a critique by Samuel Klein, and was corrected sometime after we posted on it in October to say that a different editor — not one of the co-authors, as initially claimed — had handled the work.
Ask for comment, Kostoff told Retraction Watch:
They have described the reasons for their Expression.  We await the results of their review.
Hat tip: Smut Clyde
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I seem to remember that once upon a time, the US National Library of Medicine determined what journals were indexed in the PubMed database. Anyone know what NLM does now?
I hope Elsevier will take a look at this issue as well:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/science-of-the-total-environment/special-issue/10SCLWM85MD
Most of the papers are co-authored by one or more of the guest editors or authors from their institutes!! I counted 23 such papers–unbelievable corruption.
The Special Issue page has been deleted without notice. Do you know an article which was part of the special issue?
It’s still there for me:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/toxicology-reports/special-issue/10BP4R248MG
What, exactly, is the significance of an “Expression of Concern”? Is it a warning to authors that a Retraction is being considered, or is it a lazy editor’s method of “encouraging” an author to withdraw?
Related: why would an entire journal issue be subjected to an “EOC” if some of the articles are not being questioned? Is this a way of punishing an editor for not being diligent enough?
I would greatly appreciate an explanation of the meaning and overall significance of this term. I could find nothing using the expression as a search term on your site. Thank you.
Louise, see ‘Notes from the forum discussion’ link from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) discussion on EoCs: https://publicationethics.org/resources/forum-discussions/expressions-of-concern
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