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One of the effects of the politicization of disease is the tendency for someone to beclown themselves. When it’s more important to score ideological points than it is to do good science, you end up doing neither. The latest examples involve the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Both respected medical periodicals published studies purporting to demonstrate how wrong President Trump was to offer that Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) might be a useful therapy in the treatment of COVID-19. They didn’t just publish studies, they rushed to do so, betraying how important it was to quickly neutralize the crazed speculations of the President. The World Health Organization listened and suspended ongoing trials of HCQ. The vaunted medical journals wanted to get into the game that the news media was already playing by pushing the story of the Arizona couple who had self-administered fish tank cleaner because one of the ingredients was chloroquine. Of course, it may well have been a poisoning by the wife who, being the only one of the two to survive the dosing, was also the only one left to describe the motives for and manner of ingesting the cleaner. We may yet get to see whether “Trump made me do it” is a valid defense to a murder charge.
The story of the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) truly appears to demonstrate the truth that when you want something in the worst possible way, you usually get it. They appear to have been taken in by a totally bogus outfit, Surgisphere, that seems to be selling whatever the database equivalent of vaporware is, or maybe just milking the investors in the manner of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. If you don’t know the story already here are the basics: Surgisphere purported to provide extensive hospitalization data to three researchers who crunched the numbers embedded in that data. The numbers now crunched, squeezed, spun and rinsed purported to prove that HCQ doesn’t work and creates a great risk of heart problems, including death–in short, taking HCQ for COVID-19 is worse than not taking it at all. How science works is someone publishes their work and methodology and then someone else tries to replicate the same result. The only way the replication can occur (and the results demonstrated to constitute science) is for someone else to have access to the same data. Turns out Surgisphere had an inconvenient problem. The hospitals whose data was supposedly analyzed had never heard of them. Therefore there is no credibility to the dataset that underlies the published study. Lancet and NEJM could have avoided egg on their face by doing a little due diligence about Surgisphere and verified with the hospitals that the data came from them. But, no, when a story is too good to check…well, you know the rest. The study has now been retracted by the three authors who did the number crunching — no word from the owner of Surgisphere.
Oh, and by the way, there is another study involving a potential COVID-19 medication, Ivermectin, that also relied on a Surgisphsere dataset. That study will likely be retracted as well. Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication, may in fact be a promising therapy for COVID-19, but the study involving Surgisphere data will not be the one demonstrating its efficacy.
Not to be deterred by the Surgisphere fiasco NEJM has put out another critical study of HCQ, this time not alleging it is hazardous to take it for COVID-19, just that it doesn’t perform better than a placebo as a postexposure prophylaxis. That is, people who had actually been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 and then took HCQ or a placebo, got sick at essentially the same rate. So were there any problems or issues with this study? Chris Martenson discusses the pros and cons of the study in the linked video between 7:40 and 35:05.
And, of course, there are a couple of other studies — one from India and one from Lebanon — that are showing good results with HCQ+. Martinson discusses those studies as well from 35:05 to 41:10. Martinson’s (current) bottom line:
The HCQ Wars will continue until there is no value in them for whatever agenda is being pursued.
[Note 1: I will be arbitrarily ending the daily COVID-19 posts on Day 150. It is clear now more than ever that this is not a public health crisis, it is a public policy crisis dressed in whatever garb best suits those that promote government control over our lives. That will be the constant battle of the remainder of my life. But it has nothing to do with the disease we labeled COVID-19.]
[Note 2: Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]Published in