Preface: On May 22, The Lancet published a study of 96,000 COVID-19 patients stating Hydroxychloroquine had no value in treating COVID-19 and even suggested increased risk of mortality. Literally dozens of studies around the globe, and significant evidence (in the thousands) that is still oddly being referred to as anecdotal, suggest strongly that HCQ has good efficacy against COVID-19.
The position in the Lancet paper, was the similar to 3 other non peer reviewed, retrospective studies that have also had questionable interpretations by the wider medical community. It also contradicts the actions from thousands of doctors who are suing the FDA right now over HCQ restrictions .
The mainstream media and social media circuits have been pushing these small number of anti-HCQ stories with incredible veracity, ignoring all studies that show efficacy. For their purpose, it appears that no positive study even exists.
This now retracted study in the Lancet had caused such concern, that the World Health Organisation immediately halted all worldwide trials and investigated all data from all trials globally to assess any risks from using hydroxychloroquine in the COVID-19 settings on trial.
The WHO have since assessed their data, along with the UK’s Recovery trials of 11,000 patients (who report mortality of just 0.01), and have determined that after abundant caution, there is no heightened risk of mortality when being treated for COVID-19 with hydroxychloroqine. This is next point is important; this evaluation that WHO has made is from data on the doses they are using in their world wide trials, which according to ICMR in India, and many studies and doctors that have had reported significant success, is a considerably higher in dosage than needed, and could potentially have added risk for that reason alone.
By the 3rd of June, a week later, it was business as usual. WHO literally encouraged the trials to now resume with hydroxychloroquine, citing that their concerns no longer existed after looking into all available data.
“We (WHO) had taken abundant caution, while we looked at our own data, and while other ongoing trials of hydroxychloroquine in the UK looked at their data, which is a fairly substantial data set of over 11,000 patients.”Dr Soumya Swaminathan
A member of the press at the WHO press conference asked if this now meant that they were saying hydroxychloroquine was safe. The response did not divulge any real insight, but trials are encouraged to to continue, after a safety check, which dismisses the Lancet article.
“We are now fairly confident not having seen any differences in mortality… (no heightened risk exists using HCQ) the data safety monitoring committees of both Solidarity and Recovery have recommended that the trials continue” she responded.
“We encourage the other trials to continue”Dr Soumya Swaminathan
In an amazing shirk of editorial responsibility for a medical journal, whose responsibility is normally to oversee the validity of their submissions, The Lancet’s retraction, deflected all culpability to the authors, and distanced themselves from the data.
The Lancet article had serious scientific concerns, and the authors were far too small a company to have negotiated privacy arrangements and secure digital relationships with 671 hospitals that spoke 22 languages, and all within 2 months from start up with 5 staff. Yet The Lancet saw no previous concern.
The CEO of Surgisphere has often quoted “If you are using big data, artificial inteligence and machine learning, do we even need random controlled trials if we have big data?“
Perhaps artificial intelligence and machine learning is not what we need if the algorithms’ data is generated from bias? Possibly they may have got away with this had they not had so many global studies showing considerable efficacy. The Lancet appears to hope that they have successfully deflected any responsibility for the presentation of faulty data, which rightly caused global concern. Retorting that a peer review is not possible due to data privacy is highly questionable in a medical study.
Whilst it will be hard to verify now that it has been retracted and not peer reviewed, many observers feel that the data is most likely generated artificially, based on an algorithm that assimilates. Assuming this may be correct, the question remains whether they started with an end goal in mind for political or monetary gain, or whether they just picked the very few questionable studies to base the algorithm on, driven by main stream medias narrative, which has now become belief for many.
The Lancet retraction read:
RETRACTION – Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis
After publication of our Lancet Article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and our co-author, Sapan Desai, in our publication.
We launched an independent third party peer review of Surgisphere with the consent of Sapan Desai to evaluate the origination of the database elements, to confirm the completeness of the database, and to replicate the analyses presented in the paper. Our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements.
As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from the peer-review process.
We always aspire to perform our research in accordance with the highest ethical and professional guidelines.We can never forget the responsibility we have as researchers to scrupulously ensure that we rely on data sources that adhere to our high standards.
Based on this development, we can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources. Due to this unfortunate development, the authors request that the paper be retracted.
We all entered this collaboration to contribute in good faith and at a time of great need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We deeply apologise to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused.