Thursday, June 04, 2020

Apparent fraud in the study that discredited Hydroxychloroquine

NEJM and The Lancet issue expressions of concern as researchers question where the company got its data on thousands of coronavirus patients

Scientists are questioning the validity of two influential studies of COVID-19 patients as concerns grow about the provenance of the dataset underpinning them. Despite assurances from Surgisphere Corporation, an Illinois-based company that owns the data, hundreds of researchers have now signed open letters to The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), voicing their concerns. Today, NEJM and The Lancet issued expressions of concern about the reliability of the papers’ conclusions.

“Recently, substantive concerns have been raised about the quality of the information in that database,” writes NEJM editor-in-chief Eric Rubin in the expression of concern. “We have asked the authors to provide evidence that the data are reliable. In the interim and for the benefit of our readers, we are publishing this Expression of Concern about the reliability of their conclusions.”

    A number of hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois tell The Scientist they did not contribute to Surgisphere’s dataset.

A statement by The Lancet editors reads: “Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.”

Both studies relied on Surgisphere Corporation’s database, which the papers state contains COVID-19 patient data from hundreds of hospitals around the world. A third paper from Surgisphere, which described the effects of the drug ivermectin in COVID-19 patients, was posted as a preprint in April.

The studies’ findings have influenced research and policy, with the World Health Organization recently suspending testing of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns reported in the Lancet study. Regulatory agencies in the UK and in France have also suspended recruitment into clinical trials of the drug in COVID-19 patients.
See “WHO Halts Hydroxychloroquine Study Over Safety Concerns”
The search for sources of Surgisphere’s COVID-19 data

Scientists are expressing doubts that Surgisphere Corporation could have collected so much detailed patient data in such a short period of time. The open letter to the NEJM requests that, “at the very minimum, [Surgisphere should share] the aggregated patient data at the hospital level (for all covariates and outcomes).”

The Lancet study reported that Surgisphere’s registry contained data from more than 63,000 COVID-19 patients admitted to 559 hospitals in North America by April 14. By that date, around 580,000 total cases had been reported in the United States, with New York and New Jersey accounting for nearly half of them.

Surgisphere CEO and founder Sapan Desai has so far declined to release the names of any hospitals involved in providing the data, citing pre-arranged privacy agreements.

The Scientist has reached out to some of the largest health systems in the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic to inquire whether they participated, but could not find any that did.

Instead, a number of hospitals confirmed that they did not contribute data, namely, New Jersey health systems RJWBarnabas Health and Cooper Health, NYC Health + Hospitals and NYU Langone in New York, and Illinois-based health systems Rush and Advocate Health Care.

Northwest Community Hospital, which employed Desai as a vascular surgeon until February 10 this year, did not contribute data, it confirms in an email to The Scientist. Nor did coauthor Mendeep Mehra’s institution, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In an interview last week, Desai told The Scientist that he would ask if any hospitals were willing to come forward voluntarily to confirm their participation, but has not provided any names yet.

Desai continues to stand by Surgisphere’s registry, saying in a statement to The Scientist that “it is essential that the scientific and lay community alike understand the value—and legitimacy—of databases such as Surgisphere’s.”
See “Disputed Hydroxychloroquine Study Brings Scrutiny to Surgisphere”

A growing list of discrepancies

The Lancet study’s full dataset included 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents by April 14. Of those patients, 10,698 had died in hospital by April 21, the study reported.

Readers have argued that the data presented in these papers don’t jibe with reported numbers of COVID-19 patients. For example, researchers at Australian institutions told the The Guardian last week (May 28) that the number of Australian deaths in the Lancet paper, counted up until April 21, exceeded the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded by health authorities up until that date.

Desai told the Guardian that this was due to an error that caused one hospital in Asia to be included in the Australian dataset, but didn’t provide any further detail about country-level or hospital-level data. The Lancet subsequently published a correction from the authors with the amended Australian data, and with an added table that included continent-level raw data, instead of the adjusted data Desai said had been shown previously.

Researchers also expressed doubts about the African data in interviews with The Scientist and in the open letter to the Lancet, noting that the quality of electronic health records on the continent makes it unlikely that Surgisphere Corporation could have obtained the records of 4,402 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Africa by April 14, when only 15,738 cases had been reported.

Mehra, the medical director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center, told The Scientist in a statement yesterday that “the results, findings and overall interpretations reported in the study remain unchanged.” However, he adds that the coauthors “have initiated an independent academic review of the data” in the Lancet study.

Desai says in a statement sent via Liz DeForest of the public relations firm Bliss Integrated, that he and his coauthors have today initiated a “voluntary third-party audit of that paper in collaboration with The Lancet.”

In the meantime, concerns about a second study, also coauthored by Mehra, have come to the fore. An open letter to the NEJM co-organized by James Watson, a senior scientist at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Thailand who also organized the open letter to the Lancet, today noted several discrepancies between Surgisphere’s database and national COVID-19 data.

For example, the NEJM study reports data from 346 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Turkey by March 15. However, the letter states, “countrywide, the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed at Istanbul Faculty of Medicine on the 9th of March. The second COVID-19 patient in that hospital was not seen until the 16th of March. The Turkish Ministry of Health reported a total of only 191 PCR positive cases by the 18th of March.”

In response to the NEJM expression of concern—issued just a few hours after the open letter was posted—Desai says he is “arranging a non-disclosure agreement that will provide the authors of the NEJM paper with the data access requested by NEJM. I am confident Surgisphere is able to address the concerns of NEJM, The Lancet and the broader scientific community.”



The Real Reason Why They Hate Him: Donald Trump is a Heretic from the Left’s Secular Religion

Donald Trump is a heretic. He is persecuted by the Church.

No, not any of the Christian Churches. For them, although few realize or will admit it, Donald Trump, the famous playboy womanizer, is the most pro-Christian President in recent memory. Trump is a heretic from the Leftist church, the secular religion of today’s political and media elites, and as such he must be treated as heretics were in the old days of the Spanish Inquisition: he must be burned at the stake. Actually, that’s inaccurate, as archaism is frowned upon by this religion’s clergy. He need not be burned at the stake, but by whatever means, he must be destroyed.

Although most people in the United States today still identify themselves as Christians, the dominant religion of those who have dominated the political arena, own the establishment media, and set the cultural tone for the nation is not Christianity, but Leftism.

Leftism is a religion without a being who is identified as god as such, except insofar as the atomized individual is exalted to deity status and its every whim canonized as tantamount to divine writ, but it is as rigidly dogmatic, as fervently held, and as fanatically divorced from rationality as the worst and most destructive religious manifestations in human history. It is also extremely influential and all-pervasive. Every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt, with two notable exceptions, has held to this religion to varying degrees, and in some way paid obeisance to its gods and made offerings at its altars.

The first exception was Ronald Reagan. Richard Nixon was virulently hated by the high priests of Leftism, almost as much as Trump is now, but as President, instead of fighting them, Nixon endeavored in numerous ways to show that he was as good a Leftist as those who were determined to drive him from office and destroy him. They were, obviously, not appeased. As is shown in the forthcoming Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster, it was Reagan who was the first post-FDR President to blaspheme the Leftist religion by refusing to adhere to the Leftist dogma that the best way to deal with the Soviet Union was through the admixture of naïve self-abnegation and suicidal concession known as détente.

But Reagan, too, lit incense at the Leftist altars, opening the floodgates to millions of migrants, including all too many with little understanding of, much less love for, the founding principles of the American Republic, when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, on November 6, 1986. This act made it unlawful to hire people who had come into the country illegally, but also granted amnesty to virtually all illegal immigrants who had entered before 1982—some three million people.

It was left to Donald Trump to challenge the very religion of Leftism itself. The Leftist religion is fervently internationalist, believing that any and all manifestations of nationalism or patriotism are evil in themselves and a recrudescence of Nazism. Trump, by contrast, has repeatedly declared that as President he puts America first, refusing to be intimidate by ongoing efforts to discredit the America-First slogan, and the imperative behind it, as neofascist or racist. Never-Trump commentator William Kristol enunciated the Leftist dogma when he tweeted: “I’ll be unembarrassedly old-fashioned here: It is profoundly depressing and vulgar to hear an American president proclaim ‘America First.’”

As far as Kristol was concerned, the President of the United States should put the interests of the entire world first. This would involve sending American troops on “humanitarian” missions all over the globe, even when no conceivable American interest was involved. Economically, it would require the United States to tie itself into the global economy, another sacred Leftist dogma that Trump has rejected.

It doesn’t matter to the adherents of the Leftist religion that the coronavirus pandemic has shown why it is unwise to depend on China to manufacture anything that America needs. Their beliefs are not rational. Religious faith can be rational, but it often is not, and the Leftist religion is not rational. It is a set of feelings, and emotions, and manifestations of wishful thinking about the world that can be frankly dangerous when it collides with reality – as the coronavirus showed yet again.

But religious faiths can survive all manner of disconfirming evidence. And so Trump is a heretic, and nothing but a heretic, and as such he is persecuted. As far as Leftists are concerned, he must be destroyed, because if he is not, he will destroy their religion. This will be for them a fight to the death.




Barack Obama obligatorily condemns riots: "Let's not excuse violence" (National Review)

BET founder Robert Johnson calls for $14 trillion in slavery reparations (Forbes)

Prosecutor is probing whether Russians fed disinformation to dossier author Christopher Steele (The Daily Caller)

Nineteen killed: Chicago has deadliest weekend of the year amid riots, looting (The Daily Wire)

California liquor store owner uses AR-15 to protect his property from looters (Fox News)

Nebraska bar owner who killed protester in self-defense will not be charged (New York Post)

Iron-fisted Governor Gretchen Whitmer at long last lifts Michigan's stay-at-home order (AP)

Sweden launches inquiry into handling of pandemic as deaths per million becomes highest in the world (Hot Air)

Hong Kong bans Tiananmen Square vigil for first time in 30 years (The Daily Caller)

Family medical examiner concludes George Floyd died of asphyxia, rules death a homicide (National Review)

Policy: Reforming occupational licensing in reopening plans would benefit everyone (The Federalist)

Policy: Over-policing is rooted in over-reliance on politics (Foundation for Economic Education)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


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