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LancetGate

The Lancet, like the British Medical Journal, has been publishing fake news for years about climate change. [They also published a fake article about deaths caused in the second Iraq war. That one interested me because my political opinions would have naturally led me to lend credence to their absurdly exaggerated figures, yet somehow I managed heroically to overcome my cognitive biasses and see that their study was crap, thus disproving decades of research by supposedly unbiassed academics (who hold the same – correct – lefty opinions as myself) to the effect that we are at the mercy of our world views, or cognitive biasses. You may be, Professor Lewandowsky, but that’s because you’re a fraud. I’m not.]

But with this study they’ve jumped the pangolin.

The word “Lancetgate” doesn’t seem to have got into the English language press yet. Get used to it. The popular French newspaper France Soir seems to have invented it to describe the scandal surrounding the article published in the Lancet 22nd May describing a metastudy on the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment of Covid 19.

The first I heard of this study was an excellent article in the Guardian (yes, you read that right) by their medical correspondent and Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey in which she linked to this article at Columbia University’s Statistical modelling blog which reproduced a table from the Lancet study which demonstrated definitively (to me) that the study was fraudulent. (Briefly, the table breaks down the sample by continent (and not by country, which is odd) and by type of patient. Same proportion of females, same proportion of smokers, on every continent, to within 1%. Without recharging my 1970s Texas Instruments BS detector which I last used in my days as a market researcher 40 years ago, I’m prepared to wager that that’s bollocks. Real world statistics don’t work that way.)

Columbia is still following the story, most recently here and Melissa of the Australian Graun has developed the story further here.

The NYT has just got hold of it, 4 hours ago as I write this, but the credit goes to the French Media, and particularly France Soir, for having revealed that:

The Lancet article claimed, in a study of about 15,000 patients, that hydroxychloroqine (HCQ) was at best useless, and at worst dangerous. The WHO, followed by the French government, promptly warned against the use of HCQ and ceased clinical trials.

In the days that followed, very surprising and even staggering results, as well as glaring inconsistencies in the study published on May 22 by the 4 authors aroused strong reactions. 180 doctors / scientists signed a letter requesting a number of explanations, additional information as well as the raw data which led to these results. The authors of this study failed to answer the legitimate questions posed by these scientists. The Surgisphere company that collected the data is also quite dubious.

However, without even waiting for possible responses from these 4 authors, we can be certain that the results of this study, conducted between December 2019 and April 2020, are at best erroneous and at worst fraudulent concerning the ineffectiveness and dangerosity of HCQ…

[Google translation. I just read the stuff. If it’s good enough for Google..]

France Soir had previously revealed much interesting information about Surgisphere, the company which gathered the data (which cannot be revealed, because of “confidentiality agreements” – sounds familiar?) in this article.

Surgisphere has been formed and dissolved (for failure to provide annual accounts) in several countries over a number of yearsNone of its five known employees has any expertise in data processing. One of them was a quite well known porn star. (OK, you won’t have heard of her. Take my word for it…)

There is more to this story. The fact that the NYT has taken it up means that it will be licked into shape over the coming days.

The fact that it was a French popular newspaper which broke the story that the Lancet is a fake news source is a story in itself. In the Anglo-Saxon media, hydroxychlorocquine is the Trump/Bolsinaro fake cure. In France it’s the Professor Raoult prescription. Professor Raoult’s latest Tuesday interview can be found here.

I may translate a bit if I find the energy. He speaks fast and loose. The high point is when the interviewer suggests that he has been attacked by “the élite.” “No,” replies Raoul, “I’m the élite” (and he rattles off all his academic successes) “Those who attack me are the failures, the second rate.” (He also has it in for the British Medical Journal, if I heard aright. That’s two of the most serious world medical authorities treated as fake news sources.)

If climate science had just one sceptic with the insolent authority of Professor Raoult we wouldn’t be where we are. But “we” are Anglo Saxon, watching from afar the official story being demolished by a bunch of ignorant frogs, much as we watched the Bastille being toppled all those years ago. French libel laws are less – inquisitional – than British ones. If the Lancet publishes shit you’re allowed in France to say: “The Lancet is publishing shit.”

It’s British shit, which is no doubt why it’s French journalists who are revealing it. But it’s shit all the same.

109 thoughts on “LancetGate

  1. At some stage, some groups were claiming some success with hydroxychloroqine+zinc.Follow up studies tried to replicate (without the zinc) and said the method did not work.

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  2. Retraction Watch has a piece on this.

    The Lancet has form. I don’t know if the Lancet Countdown 2019 has been mentioned in these pages (it’s easy to find on t’web). This weighty document sets out to prove that climate change is worse than we thought, and succeeds, or fails, or wriggles around in an attempt to spin things in a certain direction depending on your point of view. (Consult your GP before reading.)

    So, more people are more exposed to wildfire risk. But the obvious answer to that is that population is growing, and people are building houses in wildfire-prone habitat.

    Floods and storms are affecting more people. But the obvious rejoinder is that fewer people are dying in these events.

    Conditions are more conducive to transmission of malaria etc. But malaria deaths are on the decline.

    Global “crop yield potential” has declined for maize, wheat, rice and soy. But nowhere is it mentioned that world yields go up year by year.

    Everywhere The Countdown seems to contrive a fancy proxy measure that shows things are terrible and getting worse – when in fact they have never been better, and there is no sign of a reversal in that trend.

    There does seem to be more potential to crush stupid studies in the medical realm than in climate. Would there have been such a piling on for a dubious climate study? I doubt that.

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  3. To my mind, this whole HCQ issue breaks down into two separate categories:

    1. Does it work, in combination with other drugs/chemicals? Is the evidence thus far convincing that it has a significant positive outcome for patients?

    2. Studies which purport to demonstrate that HCQ does not work are often poor to outright fraudulent. The latest Lancet attempt being an example. Why? Because Trump is an HCQ advocate? Or is there some other reason why the pretend medical ‘elite’ wish to discredit what may indeed be an effective treatment for Covid-19?

    I don’t know enough about this subject to have a firm opinion on either, but there’s something not quite right going on, that’s for sure.

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  4. This article epitomizes what CliScep is all about and it exemplifies why I choose to express my views here. I also urge everyone to read the excellent article linked to by Oldbrew.

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  5. JAIME
    The evidence for its effectiveness is in the work of GPs who prescribe it, and the millions in Africa and Asia who take it as a preventive against malaria without ill effects, plus (in France) the media appearances of Professor Raoult, who has the immense advantage of being a top expert who is freaky looking and who provides excellent copy in the form of outrageous-sounding quotes. The evidence against is a number of dud studies and the chorus from the medical establishment saying “peer-reviewed double-blind testing or nothing.”

    There’s the same kind of political lineup for and against in France as elsewhere, with a certain po-faced “trust the science” centre left that opposes Raoult, I suspect out of fear of being accused of conspiracy theorising. Because, frankly, the only explanation of the ferociousness of the opposition is a plot by Big Pharma. This makes a lot of sense in France, because of the feebleness of the French pharmaceutical industry in comparison to the Americans and Germans. And Raoult has been a thorn in the side of the medical establishment, particularly of the head of the French medical research organisation INSERM, who happens to be the husband of the last Health Minister, who suddenly resigned in February just as the Covid story was beginning.

    Incidentally, Craig Murray has a good conspiracy theory concerning Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/05/why-barnard-castle/

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  6. Geoff: It doesn’t detract from your great Lancet article, but I have to disagree with this: “If climate science had just one sceptic with the insolent authority of Professor Raoult we wouldn’t be where we are.”

    Raoult is facing nothing like the cultural juggernaut of climate catastrophism, even as it was decades ago (which doesn’t lessen his courage to stand up for his work). And there are or have been very many authoritative skeptics of relevant disciplines (bearing in mind that ‘climate science’ as a discipline in it’s own right is relatively recent, and still not well-defined given who are calling themselves such these days) who have certainly shown no respect for arbitrary consensus, up to last February including the world’s greatest living physicist. And all to little avail. No one individual was ever going to stop this, whoever they might be and whatever characteristics we might grant them in our imaginations.

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  7. Has anyone supplied a reason or a motive for the Lancet buying into publishing a paper which it must have known would be accused of being fraudulent? Don’t they believe in proper peer review? I just don’t believe it was because Trump supported use of HQ. A journal with a worldwide reputation (admittedly somewhat battered) should not be risking it on petty matters. Is the whole of science going down the pan?

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  8. ANDY
    I’m sure you’re right, and I’ve taken my revenge by correcting a spelling mistake. (I’ve left one in the article.)

    Raoult is special because the world of science really does work on merit, and Raoult has written a lot of papers and picked up an awful lot of prestigious awards. He’s also politically untouchable because of his links with African allies of France like Senegal through his work on malaria. My point was that his prominence is based more on his symbolic importance than on the strength of his arguments. However daft that may be, it’s the reason that the journalists at France Soir were the first mainstream reporters to start doing the basic journalistic work of digging through the accounts of Surgisphere, interviewing the paper’s lead author, etc.

    Unfortunately, “the world’s greatest living physicist” doesn’t cut much ice in the climate debate. Now if it was Attenborough who came out as a climate sceptic – would that make a difference?

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  9. The answer to why attack HCQ is simple. Follow the money, there is very little to be made from HCQ + Zinc or Ivermectin, they are both cheap and cheerful with no patents etc.

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  10. Geoff: “Unfortunately, “the world’s greatest living physicist” doesn’t cut much ice in the climate debate.”

    Exactly *because* such an overwhelming and crushing culture of catastrophism drives it. Freeman Dyson is as prestigious as it gets, has masses of successful papers / theories, and is iconic too (albeit much less so when his climate views surfaced).

    “Now if it was Attenborough who came out as a climate sceptic – would that make a difference?”

    Alan beat me to the obvious answer on this. Had Atters and Bellamy reversed their positions decades ago, then the former would be the obscure one and the latter the famous one. If Atters reversed his position even *now*, it would only cause damage for a short while, until he was written off as having gone senile (as to some extent happened when Lovelock went into partial reverse), or squished / smeared, as is happening with Planet of the Humans.

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  11. I don’t think you appreciate the depths of TDS, Alan. Practically everything you read about him in the media contains the worst possible interpretation of everything he does. If that requires making stuff up, that’s what they’ll do. To those with TDS, he is literally Hitler and nothing is off the table to try and discredit and remove him.

    Trump claimed to be taking HCQ for CV prophylaxis. It must be proven how stupid and dangerous this is.

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  12. I think there is a more murky and wider answer as to why a top medical journal released an exceptionally shoddy and easily debunked study claiming HCQ treatment is dangerous, allied with the knee-jerk reaction of the WHO and others to halt trials immediately. It is Trump derangement syndrome plus simple profit. Cheap, widely available, unpatented drugs which work are not what the drugs industry wants to know about. Developing a patented vaccine however is a much more profitable enterprise. Big Pharma pushes vaccines for profit and for professional gain. They want to be involved, to be seen to be involved, to be seen to be saviours, but most importantly they want to make money – and they have many politicians (and perhaps editors of top medical journals) in their pockets who will help them to do just that, so perhaps Cummings’ visit to BC, as indicated by Geoff’s link, was not entirely coincidental. By releasing this risible study, The Lancet have taken a considerable hit, but the damage to HCQ in terms of public perception plus medical trials of HCQ, is considerable. What we are seeing is the ruthless demolition of the competition by Corporate Big Pharma and its many supporters in the establishment.

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  13. The Guardian’s Melbourne editor Melissa Davey has a third article on the Lancet paper, dated the evening of June 3rd
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/03/covid-19-surgisphere-who-world-health-organization-hydroxychloroquine
    repeating much of the information that France Soir published on 29th May, following doubts raised during France Soir’s exclusive interview with author Mandeep Mehra on 23rd May.

    Davey’s first article, dated 28th May, was based partly on an article from Columbia university’s statistical modelling blog dated 25th May, and on the same day the Guardian reported the first criticism of the paper, quoting Professor Raoult as saying:

    “How can a messy study done with ‘big data’ change what we see? Here we have had 4,000 people go through our hospital, you don’t think I’m going to change because there are people who do ‘big data’, which is a kind of completely delusional fantasy.”

    (In fact Professor Raoult compared the authors of the study to the “Pieds Nickelés,” a band of incompetent villains from a French kids’ strip cartoon.)

    Apparently it takes 9-11 days for information to cross the channel and get delivered to the Guardian’s readers in Britain (via Melbourne.) News of the Napoleonic wars travelled faster.

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  14. Perhaps French news is now quarantined in anticipation of an anticipated full break with the EU.

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  15. The Planet Human podcast has an interview with Richard Dearlove, formerly “C”, who says he’s read a paper that shows that Wuhan coronavirus escaped from a laboratory. There’s a lot of ipse dixit there I know, but I’m going to try to find the paper to see if I can make head or tail of it.

    I note there are more articles rubbishing HCQ. These I have not delved into yet, but it would be interesting to know if they relate to valid treatment protocols.

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  16. The Lancet goes into reverse gear…

    The much-criticized study on hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19 has now a dim outlook as the renowned medical journal The Lancet, which published it, distanced itself from it by admitting in a formal warning that “important issues” hung over it.

    The Lancet wants “to alert readers that serious scientific questions about the study have been brought to (their) attention,” the magazine said.

    https://www.gilmorehealth.com/the-hydroxychloroquine-study-has-serious-flaws-according-to-the-lancet/

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  17. Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk Covid-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis published at American Journal of Epidemiology
    https://academic.oup.com/aje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aje/kwaa093/5847586?searchresult=1

    More than 1.6 million Americans have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and >10 times that number carry antibodies to it. High-risk patients presenting with progressing symptomatic disease have only hospitalization treatment with its high mortality. An outpatient treatment that prevents hospitalization is desperately needed. Two candidate medications have been widely discussed: remdesivir, and hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin. Remdesivir has shown mild effectiveness in hospitalized inpatients, but no trials have been registered in outpatients. Hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin has been widely misrepresented in both clinical reports and public media, and outpatient trials results are not expected until September.

    Early outpatient illness is very different than later hospitalized florid disease and the treatments differ. Evidence about use of hydroxychloroquine alone, or of hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin in inpatients, is irrelevant concerning efficacy of the pair in early high-risk outpatient disease. Five studies, including two controlled clinical trials, have demonstrated significant major outpatient treatment efficacy. Hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin has been used as standard-of-care in more than 300,000 older adults with multicomorbidities, with estimated proportion diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias attributable to the medications 47/100,000 users, of which estimated mortality is <20%, 9/100,000 users, compared to the 10,000 Americans now dying each week. These medications need to be widely available and promoted immediately for physicians to prescribe.

    My synopsis https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/epidemiology-journel-use-hcqaz/

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  18. The paper by Harvey Risch goes on to discuss a clash of scientific world views that reminds of climate science with its theorists vs. empiricists. From page 19:

    The clash in scientific worldviews is that basic and clinical scientists seem to feel that biological and drug-development evidence for medication use in non-human and nonoutpatient contexts can be extrapolated to recommendations for outpatient use without benefit of RCT evidence but don’t accept epidemiologic evidence without RCTs. Whereas epidemiologists have had career experience with laboratory and animal evidence that did not hold up under epidemiologic study, but do reason by including all types of epidemiologic study designs and derive causal conclusions in the standard way following Hill’s Aspects (26) on the basis of strong totality of evidence, sometimes even without RCT evidence.

    There are contexts where each approach is valid. However, it is not my point to say that remdesivir has little evidence to support its potential outpatient utility, only efficacy considerations that have not been addressed and that could lead to lack of efficacy under general use. But HCQ+AZ has been directly studied in actual early high-risk outpatient use with all of its temporal considerations and found empirically to have sufficient epidemiological evidence for its effective and safe employment that way, and that requiring delay of such general use until availability of additional RCT evidence is untenable because of the ongoing and projected continuing mortality. No studies of Covid-19 outpatient HCQ+AZ use have shown higher mortality with such use than without, cardiac ORIGINAL arrhythmias included, thus there is no empirical downside to this combined medication use.

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  19. That paper I mentioned, by Sorensen, Susrad & Dalgleish, is here.

    The authors do describe inserts, and seem to imply that they are not natural. But it’s hard to judge for someone whose knowledge of protein sequences is limited.

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  20. Melissa Davey has a new, much fuller article exposing Surgisphere, the data collection agency involved in the Lancet study.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/04/unreliable-data-doubt-snowballed-covid-19-drug-research-surgisphere-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine
    She’s scooped everyone (except France Soir) including her own science editor. The authors of the article are clearly crooks. It’s easy to see why they might use the pandemic to publicise their phantom data gathering operation, but why do so in an article trashing hydroxychloroquine? That’s a question that should interest investigators in a future criminal investigation. And why didn’t the Lancet or their peer reviewers have a quick look at Surgisphere’s presence on Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter etc? It’s not every day they get a paper from a research organisation that employs porn stars.

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  21. Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, the dead guy is engaged in zombie science. As to the lingerie model, well, we’re all lingerie models, but some of us are better at it than others.

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  22. Thanks OldBrew. The Guardian’s health editor seems to suggest that the article’s retraction was due the Guardian’s investigation. The Lancet’s editor blames the lead author and the lead author blames his co-author.

    The American Spectator publishes the name of Surgisphere’s Director of Sales and Marketing. (My apologies for calling her a porn star. I was going by the Guardian’s description of her as an “adult model.”)
    https://spectator.org/lancetgate-pulling-a-fast-one-on-proponents-of-hydroxychloroquine-and-chloroquine/

    while the islamophobic site https://resistancerepublicaine.com publishes a photo and a CV. Before being director of sales and marketing for the world’s biggest medical data firm she was a Nespresso product specialist. Her special skills include Crowd Gathering, dancing, acting and yoga instruction. (This hate-filled quasi-racist site also recommends listening to Scarlatti as an anti-islam prophylactic. Oh Brave new world…)

    Meanwhile, the racist far right Italian site Far-falla has published a copy of the North Carolina statement of bankruptcy (certificate of adminitrative dissolution) of Surgisphere from 2015.
    https://far-falla.com/e-inutile-sono-solo-dei-truffatori-lancetgate/#more-8078

    This is the kind of company one finds oneself in unfortunately. A Google search for “Lancetgate” turns up France Soir, plus hundreds of French blogs, mostly quoting Professor Raoult’s description of the paper as “shitty,” plus some Francophone African newspapers. I’m guessing the British press will circle the wagons round the Lancet and find another description of the scandal.

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  23. RT has the story too:

    “Top medical journal retracts Covid-19 study criticizing hydroxychloroquine after validity of research data questioned”

    https://www.rt.com/news/490828-lancet-hydroxychloroquine-study-retraction-coronavirus/

    The BBC is late to the party, it seems. They had this story yesterday:

    “Coronavirus and hydroxychloroquine: What do we know?”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/51980731

    Well down the story, it includes this:

    “Safety fears were highlighted following research published in the Lancet medical journal that reviewed the medical records of thousands of coronavirus patients.

    This suggested there were no benefits to taking the drugs – and they could even increase the risk of heart problems.

    But the Lancet has now put out “an expression of concern” about the research after questions about the data that was used by a group of scientists.

    The World Health Organization (WHO), which had halted some trials using hydroxychloroquine because of these safety concerns, announced on 3 June that it would resume them.”

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  24. MARK HODGSON
    From your first link:

    The Surgisphere retractions underline why it’s important not to overstate the findings of any single study, tweeted Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. But they are also “a reminder that [the] scientific publication largely worked,” he added.

    He would tweet that, wouldn’t he? Given that lead author Mandeep Mehra works at the Harvard Medical School. By “..scientific publication largely worked” he presumably means that the Lancet (and Harvard) managed to get trials halted and sow doubts in the minds of the public about a cheap, non-patented medicine that is being used successfully all over the world to save lives.

    Neither Politico, RT nor the BBC make the point that arises from Melissa Davey’s articles in the Guardian and articles in France Soir – that the absurd, fraudulent nature of the research was evident to hundreds of scientists who wrote a letter of complaint, as well as to ordinary bloggers with a minimum of competence, and that the Lancet might be in trouble.

    Criminal negligence? I was hoping you would turn up to give an expert view on that.

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  25. Geoff – me, an expert? Not any more, if I ever was! Too long retired and out of the loop, I’m afraid. I’m occasionally good for explaining basic principles, which I haven’t yet forgotten, about how some aspects of the law and legal procedure work, but that’s about it, I’m afraid.

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  26. If only climate science catastrophist crap papers could be as easily culled out of the public square…..
    Hayhoe, Mann, Hansen, etc., etc., etc., etc….

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  27. @ Geoff Chambers,
    “If climate science had just one sceptic with the insolent authority of Professor Raoult we wouldn’t be where we are”
    You cannot imagine being so right about Pr Didier Raoult since he is an independant mind who is well known in France as a fierce climatoskeptic too.
    So the world’s politic and mediatic establishment has another reason to trash him !

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  28. The “Raoult protocol” used in the “Institut Hospitalier Universitaire Méditerranée” of Marseille since the beginning of the pandemic of Covid19 is a combination of HCQ+AZT and Zinc.
    All the symptomatic patients tested positive to Covid19 infection have to undergo Electro Cardiogram tests with the aim to put aside the people with heart problems from the protocol.
    Immediately after, they are given daily the HCQ+AZT and Zinc combination usually for a 10 days period.
    The sooner they are treated the more odds they have being cured.
    The data given by the Marseille IHU are explicit:
    3316 patients have been treated since early march until now. Only 18 have died. That means a 0,5% rate of deaths. https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/covid-19/
    In my opinion no hospital throughout the world can boast of such good results.

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  29. MARK HODGSON
    The Guardian article about peer review which you link to is dynamite, or would be if Guardian readers were capable of putting 2 and 2 together and not wetting themselves about the magnitude of the result.

    It does rather let the Lancet off the hook by blaming the disaster on the failings of peer review, e.g.:

    …peer review, the formal process of reviewing scientific work before it is accepted for publication, is not designed to detect anomalous data. It makes no difference if the anomalies are due to inaccuracies, miscalculations, or outright fraud. This is not what peer review is for. While it is the internationally recognised badge of “settled science”, its value is far more complicated […] At its worst, it is merely window dressing that gives the unwarranted appearance of authority, a cursory process which confers no real value, enforces orthodoxy, and overlooks both obvious analytical problems and outright fraud entirely.

    Ouch. It’s not the “badge of settled science” of course. Nothing less than a statue on your home town several centuries after your death is that, so Michael Mann will have to wait (though I bet he’s already commissioned a sculptor.)

    There follows a plaint about how the scientist’s lot is not a happy one, and every minute spent peer-reviewing is a minute lost to furthering his job prospects. It makes a scientific career sound about as interesting as the life of a dung beetle, which may be the case for all I know.

    The point is, it completely undermines all the arguments for believing “the science” which Guardian journalists have been pushing for decades. And the author is a scientist.

    The article is labelled “comment” but I can’t see any comments, or anywhere that one can comment. It’s probably too late to have an effect anyway. I see under the article that the most commented article currently is “My wife wants me to have an affair with her best friend. What shall I do?”

    to which my answers would be:
    – first ascertain the sex and/or gender of the friend
    – wear a mask and maintain a 2 metre distance
    – charge the going rate
    – if all else fails, change to the Daily Telegraph

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  30. “The Guardian article about peer review which you link to is dynamite, or would be if Guardian readers were capable of putting 2 and 2 together and not wetting themselves about the magnitude of the result.”

    In neutral circumstances, Guardian readers are just as capable of putting 2 and 2 together as any readers of any paper. What is required of them though, is to retain this ability when the answer would challenge one of their most deeply held principles. Typically, that doesn’t happen for anyone, so indeed I think you’re right to assume it isn’t likely to to happen. What convolutions will square the circle, I don’t know, but convolutions we should expect.

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  31. @Mark Hodgson 5 Jun 20 at 3:03 pm. thanks for that link.

    my,my – from the “Support the Guardian” no less!!!
    wonder you this partial quote brings to mind in regard to climate data –

    “The immediate solution to this problem of extreme opacity, which allows flawed papers to hide in plain sight, has been advocated for years: require more transparency, mandate more scrutiny. Prioritise publishing papers which present data and analytical code alongside a manuscript. Re-analyse papers for their accuracy before publication, instead of just assessing their potential importance. Engage expert statistical reviewers where necessary, pay them if you must. Be immediately responsive to criticism, and enforce this same standard on authors.”

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  32. There are common threads running here and within Bishop Hill dealing with Peer Review. Rather than reconstituting a post on this subject that I posted on BH, I copy it here.

    Peer Review.
    As a former writer who has submitted papers for publication (thus been subject to peer review), a former journal editor (who has had to adjudicate been an author and a peer-reviewer, and a peer reviewer myself, I find people’s views of peer review vary much from the actual process.

    Nobody else knows the material that constitutes the facts in a scientific paper as well as the author(s). Nobody else has probably thought about the significance of the findings within a research paper more than the author(s). Yet a reviewer is expected to critically analyse a paper’s data and conclusions.

    Contentious conclusions within a paper are GOOD, they get the paper noticed and discussed. The place for objecting to a paper’s conclusions or challenging its data used to be either in a subsequently published discussion or by the publishing by the objectors of a paper that sets out their interpretation. But this takes time, commonly up to a year. For some papers it doesn’t fit modern needs.

    Peer review is not fit for purpose to prevent the publication of significant results based upon insufficient or faulty data. As the Guardian article says, there is no fee for reviewing a paper. At most all you are likely to get is a short written acknowledgement, and if an editor has sided with the author over your criticism, you may not even want that. Your job is to determine if the contents of the paper you are reviewing is of the type that the Journal usually accepts, has clearly set out conclusions (all supported by what appears to be adequate data and argument) and references all relevant literature. A reviewer is not expected to examine in forensic detail either the data nor the argument. The review process is not meant to oppose the conclusions in the paper and for this reason editors commonly deliberately avoid selecting known opponents of an author to be a reviewer.

    Today’s critically important papers that can have immediate social impacts, like the recent Lancet paper, require a quite different procedure that questions every aspect of the paper. This cannot be left to unpaid volunteers, and Journals, even as prestigious as the Lancet don’t have necessary funds to support such a service. We just muddle through using a process largely devised for the middle of the last century. Even so some published papers do not appear to adhere to the most basic of peer review processes. Sometimes it may be due to poor reviews, sometimes to poor editorial decisions, sometimes both.

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  33. ANDY WEST

    In neutral circumstances, Guardian readers are just as capable of putting 2 and 2 together as any readers of any paper. What is required of them though, is to retain this ability when the answer would challenge one of their most deeply held principles. Typically, that doesn’t happen for anyone

    Well it happened to me, when I realised that the Lancet article supporting my political views on the Iraq war was a load of crap. I don’t think it’s that difficult to accept a challenge to one of one’s most deeply held principles. Isn’t that what happened to all those Johnson voters in the Midlands and the North East?`

    Things change. The challenge is to determine which things.

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  34. Geoff: “I don’t think it’s that difficult to accept a challenge to one of one’s most deeply held principles.”

    Then you’re unusually flexible. Or you weren’t as emotively committed to the principles as you thought you were (which is a good sign of compensating for biases, in fact).The evidence suggests that for most people, this is extremely difficult indeed. Notwithstanding which…

    “Things change. The challenge is to determine which things.”

    Yes, it can happen. Cult members can peeled away and deprogrammed. People can let go of religious bias when they see it’s taking them to the abyss. Decades of faith being rewarded only by abuse can cause faith to fail (e.g the red wall). My bet is there’s not enough at stake or enough damage yet that they’ll let go of climate faith any time soon, but my bet’s no better than anyone else’s. I’m still expecting (net) convolution 0:

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  35. This has turned into rather a long Comment. Nevertheless I hope it’s useful.

    On Monday 4th February 2013 I went to a seminar entitled “What Counts as Good Evidence?” at the Institute of Physics in London. Richard Horton was one of the principle speakers. I recorded the whole Seminar and could put it on Soundcloud. But my main claim to fame is that I and wrote it up for Bishop Hill. And it’s still on that (much missed) Website http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/3/10/review-of-what-counts-as-good-evidence-for-policy.html

    In the Q&A I called Dr Horton out about his socialist activism and likened him to Dave Spart the Private Eyes joke resident revolutionary. The chair of the meeting started to call Richard Horton “Dave” which was pleased with.

    Horton’s not stupid and he can be very honest. At the meeting he was more honest than many editors of scientific journals about what Peer Review can and cannot do. This is him on Peer Review:

    “Peer review and journals – I couldn’t agree with you more, absolutely. I mean peer review is an utterly corrupt, ignorant stupid, mad system that we’ve created it’s just that we haven’t come up with anything better.

    But let’s understand what peer review is:

    Peer review is not about checking the validity of data
    Peer review is not about reproducibility of data
    Peer review is a check on acceptability, acceptability in the scientific community.

    And that’s why I think you will still need editors, because our job is to be awkward. To say, even though you’ve got three or four peer reviewers who don’t like this, and don’t want it published. To hell with them, we’re still going to publish it. Because it still says something interesting. It looks interesting, even though it’s not accepted by this tiny group of people who we call peer reviewers.”

    Horton’s quite clearly, that peer reviewed science isn’t necessarily valid, reproducible or true.

    But in his reply (on Peer Review) he was more revealing of his attitude as editor of The Lancet. He portrays the process as him being sometimes awkward, a free spirit, and to hell with it if the reviewers don’t like it, if it’s “interesting”.

    So, then it becomes a question of what Richard Horton finds interesting. On the face of it this is completely arbitrary, and down to his personal knowledge and prejudices. So, what he believes, sometimes becomes central to what’s published. At least he’s honest about what he does. And it may go some way to explaining how Dr Wakefield was able to publish his spurious research connecting MMR vaccination to autism in The Lancet. And explain other ‘edgy’ papers that have appeared in The Lancet. Seen in this light the retraction debacle is all-of-a-piece with Horton’s past form. He (and probably quite a few on the Lancet editorial board) found it “interesting”. It agreed with their political views and it could do damage to President Trump. So, what’s not to like?

    I suppose they’ve got away with publishing the odd ‘edgy’ paper so many times that they got sloppy. Probably their visceral hatred of Trump and all his works blinded them. Hatred does that.

    Liked by 4 people

  36. Mark Piney. Thank you for your interesting input upon the Lancet’s editor in chief. I’m with you until you link publishing decisions at The Lancet with politics, especially hatred of Trump. Unless the Elsevier management are also anti-Trump I cannot see Horton’s possible bias impacting his editorial decisions. I don’t believe it has been demonstrated that Horton was responsible for the original decision to publish, it could easily be a senior editor in one the editorial offices, New York let’s say. Once the controversy broke out, Horton would instantly have been involved.
    Do you have any evidence that Elsevier is anti-Trump? Or Horton for that matter? I find it quite a stretch to believe that a Journal like the Lancet would deliberately publish a dodgy research paper in a vague attempt to damage Trump, when the expected outcome would further damage to the Lancet’s reputation. I hardly expect Elsevier’s board to approve.

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  37. Was the paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that also questioned the use of hydroxychloroquine for Covid 19 sufferers, and which also has been retracted, been affected by anti-Trump sentiments? Evidence needed.

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  38. I’ve been out of action with a stomach bug – possible early symptom of a little-known virus but apparently not in this case. Coming to this thread now, it’s a great feather in Cliscep’s cap, as John Ridgway implied in an early comment. Congratulations to the originator.

    I’ve been thinking, like Geoff and others, about the contrast with climate. Yet I think this breakthrough retraction by, and humiliation of, an ancient and prestigious journal is good news for us concerned with shoddy science, engineering and policymaking in climate and energy.

    It’s not how it works until it does. And then it does.

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  39. What a pity the expressions of Dilbert and company have to be obscured by facial masks. Another reason to blame this virus for.

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  40. Okay, since no one else wants to incur the QI klaxon, I’ll take one for the team:

    It looks like the Lancet has fallen on its sword.

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  41. I don’t have any direct evidence that Horton (or Elsevier) hates Donald Trump. How would I know that?

    Horton’s a fan of Karl Marx and a left-wing intellectual with power and past form. It’s a running certainty that he doesn’t like President Trump. But even if he doesn’t, why did he allow the publication of such a sloppy inaccurate paper?

    Horton has been Lancet editor-in-chief for at least a decade if not more. In that time, he will have recruited people with similar political views to him, which won’t have been difficult. Or, at the very least, people in The Lancet below him will ‘know-what-Richard-likes’. He is a powerful man. And, after years of publishing the occasional ‘edgy’ very damaging and flawed paper he’s got sloppy. Or one of his proteges have.

    There’s a puff-piece on Richard Horton in the Sunday Times Magazine today. He’s well embedded in the liberal-left-media-complex so it shouldn’t have been difficult for him to arrange. Not read it in detail but below this reply to you is a Comment which explains some of the damage he’s done to people’s lives. The Comment ends neatly summing up Horton, “Professor Sir Mark Pepys FRS wrote… ‘Horton’s behaviour in this case is consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views. It has greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal’ “.

    To keep going making mistake after mistake and not seeing the damage done will not be just to do with Horton’s politics. He seems also to be arrogant and impervious. Whatever his personal motivations he (and his editorial team) have done a lot of harm.

    As to why Elsevier keep him on? I don’t know why. It’s a mystery. Clearly he’s got the support of ‘those-on-high’.

    Sunday Times comment by “Winter of our Discontent” (7th June 2020)
    “Richard Horton is not a practicing clinician, he has been a journalist and media figure for many years. He quit medicine many years ago, has not completed any recognised specialist training as a virologist, epidemiologist or as an infectious diseases physician. There is no evidence of any research/academic distinction. However, he has been extremely effective at maintaining and cultivating a media profile, editorship of the one time highly regarded Lancet providing assumed respectability. The Lancet’s recent publication of a flawed research paper on hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 and its retraction this week does not get a mention in this … (article)…but must be added to a career has a number of highlights, too many to describe individually.

    On 28 February 1998 Horton published a controversial paper by Andrew Wakefield and 12 co-authors with the title “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” suggesting that vaccines could cause autism. The publication of the paper set off a sharp decline in vaccinations in Europe and America and in subsequent years globally. In the United Kingdom, the Health Protection Agency attributed a large measles outbreak in 2008 and 2009 to a concurrent drop in the number of children receiving the MMR vaccine. Pockets of measles — which can be fatal —have also cropped up in Canada and the United States as a result of parents’ refusal to vaccinate. Horton was heavily criticised for refusing to take action for so long. He was finally forced to retract the paper in February 2010 after the General Medical Council (GMC), which oversees doctors in Britain, said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that Wakefield’s “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible”. Horton defended his position by saying “I do not regret publishing the original Wakefield paper. Progress in medicine depends on the free expression of new ideas. I worked at the Royal Free from 1988 to 1990 and met him on many occasions. He is a committed, engaging, and charismatic clinician and scientist. He asks big questions about diseases – what are their ultimate causes? – and his ambition often brings quick and impressive results.”

    However, there are groups criticising Horton for contributing to the ongoing dramatic drop of vaccination of children in Europe and America that causes several epidemics and deaths by delaying the retraction of the paper for 12 years.

    In 2005 (a Lancet Editorial) supporting Professor Sir Roy Meadow who had been charged with serious professional misconduct by the GMC for giving erroneous and seriously misleading evidence in the Sally Clark trial (She was accused of murdering her two baby sons). This was especially controversial as the (Lancet) article appeared whilst the GMC proceedings were still under away and was published on the first day of Meadow’s defence. The article “incensed” Clark, a solicitor who had been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice. With the support of erroneous statistical (and other) evidence from Meadow the prosecution wrongly convicted her of murder and she spent over three years in prison before her successful second appeal. Her husband wrote a rebuttal letter to The Lancet in order to correct Horton’s ‘many inaccuracies and one-sided opinions’ and to prevent them prejudicing independent observers. James Le Fanu, medical practitioner and writer, also wrote to The Lancet in the same issue and described Horton’s words as ‘mischief’. The Clark family issued a statement addressing and countering with established fact each of the points making up Horton’s biased support of Meadow.

    The respected clinician and scientist Professor Sir Mark Pepys FRS wrote in relation to another controversial case: “Horton’s behavior in this case is consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views. It has greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.”

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Horton called for Trump to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over his defunding of the WHO. That’s a very Dave Spart thing to do – the sort of angry outburst I might allow myself on a minor blog, but absurd and demeaning for someone in his position. It’s reasonable to demand whether his behaviour is due to his far left beliefs. I’d prefer to see it as the arrogance of someone who believes that he is in a powerful position due to the unanimity of his academic audience. It doesn’t matter whether that unanimity is based on Marxism or FreeMasonry, it’s authoritarian and dangerous.

    Elsevier is nothing more than a highly profitable sausage factory churning out fillings for the CVs of ambitious academics. They would publish an International Journal of Willy Waving if they could get subscriptions from enough universities. I did a search for “Trump” on their site and found 20,000 articles mentioning him in their titles, including ones linking him to conspiracy theories, fake news etc.

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  43. Geoff I totally agree with you about Elsevier and they have been engaging in bad practices for many decades. In the mid 1980s and in my specialist geological discipline – interpretation of sedimentary rocks and sediments – there were only a few journals, both run by specialist societies. We had noticed a decline in the number of well written papers worth publishing. It was at this point that Elsevier entered the fray with publication of a new journal with an output (two volumes per year) that was almost 50 percent of what had previously been published in the previous year. And the cost to academic libraries of the new journal was enormous. Some of us that had previously rejected papers found them resuscitated in the new journal. So Elsevier competed for good papers in established journals, dragged down the overall quality of publications, and charged the earth for it. Attempts to ostracize the Elsevier journal were unsuccessful.

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  44. Oldbrew: I took the liberty of altering your URL so that it pointed not to the AMP mobile version but to the more friendly desktop one, which comes out just as nicely on my iPhone but is much better on my big desktop screen. (AMP is Google’s controversial format for faster mobile pages. I won’t try and explain the controversy here. Except that everything’s a mess, like with most software.)

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  45. Dear Oldbrew
    I’ve read the Delingpole piece and I like his thoroughness and he’s careful in his conclusions.

    Toby Young worries me a bit with his, “…why did the “independent” fact-checkers fail to spot this bit of fake news when they’ve been so quick to jump on anything purporting to show HCQ is effective? Could it be that they’re not actually independent at all, but Establishment lackeys determined to discredit anything that suggests COVID-19 isn’t the deadly pathogen it’s made out to be by governments around the world…”

    Maybe it’s the times we’re living through but it comes across as a bit too paranoid. Horton himself has, quite perceptively, been critical of the whole peer review process. It was never designed to ask fundamental questions of a paper. Although having said that, the one published in the Lancet on HCQ does seem to be full of holes.

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  46. Mark’s PS: I agree about Delingpole’s care in this case. But I do see him doing a bit of good cop, bad cop with Toby Young, with whom he was already close and all the more so in the battle on the right against lockdown, and thus against some very close erstwhile friends in the Cabinet.

    The main thing that’s missing from Dellers, in my book, is also missing from this thread so far: the staggering difference of outcome of LancetGate compared to Climategate. This coheres for me with the far deeper corruption of climate science and policy as a field than that of public health. I wanted to get to that comparison in my most recent thread. But, wherever, I think it’s worth some major heft thinking through.

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  47. Another Lancet article “has flaws” according to the Observer’s science editor
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/14/scientists-report-flaws-in-who-study-on-two-metre-distancing
    The research, commissioned by the WHO, “suggested a reduction from 2 metres to 1 would raise infection risk only marginally, from 1.3% to 2.6%.”

    Hang on. That’s a doubling of the risk. And that’s marginal?

    …scientists who delved into the work found mistakes they believe undermine the findings to the point they cannot be relied upon.. “The analysis of infection risk at 1 metre versus 2 metre should be treated with great caution,” said Prof David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at Cambridge University.. “I’m very suspicious of it.” Prof Kevin McConway, an applied statistician at the Open University, went further and called the analysis inappropriate… in the analysis the authors assume the proportional impact on risk of moving from 2 metres to 1 metre is the same as moving from 1 metre to zero. “They are forcing the proportional fit to be the same,” Spiegelhalter told the Guardian.

    I see. Extending a trend line of a graph with two data points, and the editor of the Lancet didn’t notice. And one of those points is zero metres, when you’ve presumably got your tongue in the mouth of your interlocutor.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Observer
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/14/lancet-editor-attacks-uk-government-for-catastrophic-handling-of-covid-19-pandemic
    the Lancet’s editor Richard Horton “attacks UK government for ‘catastrophic’ handling of Covid-19 pandemic.” He has a book out, “The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again” in which he “lambasts the UK management of the outbreak, describing it as the greatest science policy failure of a generation.”

    But that’s not all. The Observer also has a long interview with Richard Horton
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/14/the-lancets-editor-the-uk-response-to-coronavirus-is-the-greatest-science-policy-failure-for-a-generation
    in which he

    …damns the UK’s response as “slow, complacent and flat-footed”, revealing a “glaringly unprepared” government and a “broken system of obsequious politico-scientific complicity”.
    On the page, Horton can sound strident, even arrogant, but that’s not his manner in person at all… He’s charming, open, self-critical and full of easy laughter.

    Oh good. If you’ve been publishing crap papers for twenty years, including one (or two?) which a child can see were fake, a bit of charm and easy laughter would come in handy. Particularly if you’re attacking named scientists and the government in the middle of a major health crisis in which you’ve been caught publishing fake news.

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  48. So, this is how it goes. A study finds that a commonly used steroid used to treat coronavirus patients on ventilators, improves their chances of surviving by a third. The government IMMEDIATELY approves it for treatment on the NHS, claiming it is the ‘world’s first proven successful’ coronavirus treatment! Are you kidding me?

    Here’s what they say:

    “Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

    I’m absolutely delighted that today we can announce the world’s first successful clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19. This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.

    From today the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.

    Guided by the science, the UK is leading the way in the global fight against coronavirus – with the best clinical trials, the best vaccine development and the best immunology research in the world.

    I want to thank the brilliant scientists at Oxford University, the thousands of patients who took part in the study, and my own team, led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who has done such a brilliant job driving this work.”

    They make sure they thoroughly diss Hydroxychloroquine too:

    “Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said:

    The RECOVERY trial is an outstanding example of the UK leading the world with an impressive study capable of delivering robust answers to critical questions. Although these data have not yet been peer-reviewed.

    The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine. Together these 2 results illustrate the power of properly conducted clinical trials and the inherent danger of assuming things work without robust data.

    Whilst tempting to do otherwise, it is always better to wait for the evidence. On the dexamethasone findings, this is very encouraging because the signal on reduced mortality applies to many of the patients admitted to hospitals and the drug is comparatively low priced and available worldwide.

    The UK is a world leader in global science and medicine industries. This British trial will now affect the global response to this pandemic.”

    Have you ever heard such unrelenting, unmitigated bollocks in all your life? I’m not sure I have. It’s a goddamn steroid. It reduces inflammation. People put on aggressive intubation (ventilators) suffer from inflammation of the airways DUE to the intubation process. Furthermore, ventilation has been proven to be an inappropriate treatment for most Covid patients, doing more harm than good and the vast majority of people DIE after being put on ventilators. But hey, the British government crows about a ‘breakthrough coronavirus treatment’ which prevents so many ventilator patients dying simply because they use a steroid which is reducing inflammation of the airways caused by ventilation in the first place! Just how LOW can a government sink, whilst they falsely criticise the ACTUAL world’s first successful treatment for Covid developed by a Frenchman?

    Here’s what a couple of actual doctors have to say:

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  49. My God Geoff, the corruption just stinks. How can anyone ever trust the British government and the British medical establishment again after this? It beggars belief. Meanwhile, Imperial (yes, Imperial!) are busy testing another vaccine on 300 hapless human guinea pigs. If they manage to magic up a very poorly trialled and tested vaccine before winter, you can bet Boris and Hancock will be screaming about how the great British pharmaceutical industry has saved the world and they will probably make the vaccine mandatory, if not for the entire population, then certainly for all NHS and public sector employees plus all NHS patients, meaning you will be denied treatment for other conditions if you don’t get injected with the government’s poison.

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  50. The dexamethasone story is not as good as Oxford or the Government are touting, but perhaps not as bad as is being claimed here. From the outset is was broadcast as a drug that can be used against the virus, yet even from the first BBC news item I heard that it acts against the inflammation produced by the victim’s immune system that causes inflammation. In other words it does not act against the virus. So much of the hype are outright lies.

    Yet, on the other hand the trials are reported to be remarkably successful, reducing deaths by a third in cases where a ventilator is used, and by 20% where oxygen is administered. No wonder Oxford wanted the results known across the world and as quickly as possible.

    It isn’t a massive product of medical science, but an important result of careful testing. The government wanted a good news story so blew it up out of all proportion, nevertheless it appears to be a useful realization that we already have an armoury of drugs of different efficacy. The Oxford group have established that dexamethasone is one of the more effective ones.

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  51. Alan, I do think it is as bad as claimed. 88% of patients in a study in New York who were put onto ventilators died. In the over 65s, this figure rose to an astounding 97%. It has been shown that ventilation is NOT an appropriate treatment for most Covid patients and in a majority of cases does more harm than good. Aggressive intubation for an extended period damages lung tissue and damages the airways, so much so that patients have to be sedated on ventilators. To claim, as Hancock has done, that this is a ‘breakthrough treatment’ for Covid-19 that reduces deaths by up to a third is shockingly deceptive. All that’s happening is that patients who were being killed by an inappropriate treatment are being killed in lesser numbers because they are treating the side effects of that inappropriate treatment by using a well known anti-inflammatory corticosteroid drug. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they claim that a drug treatment which does genuinely work against the disease and improve patient outcomes does not work, using fraudulent studies as ‘proof’.

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  52. But Jaime the improvement in outcomes affects patients who were not on ventilators as well, only using oxygen. A reported 20% reduction in deaths in this group. Either you challenge the reported improvements or you have to accept that use of the drug has a significant benefit. And if a significant cause of death when using ventilators is from induced inflammation and dexamethasone significantly prevents this in a large number of cases, doesn’t this even undermine some of your objection to the use of ventilators?

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  53. Alan, Hancock is bigging up the 35% figure – reduction in mortality on ventilators. But yes, there is the 20% reduction in mortality of those given oxygen and I would point out again that Dexamethasone is a well known corticosteroid used to treat many conditions, notably chronic obstructive lung disease. It is perhaps not surprising that it it has positive outcomes for some patients with advanced severe secondary lung infections associated with Covid. Calling it a ‘breakthrough treatment for Covid’ is disingenuous in the extreme.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexamethasone

    Why is it Alan, that a much greater percentage of people put on ventilators – rather than just oxygen – survive as a result of being given Dexamethsaone? I suggest it is precisely because aggressive intubation makes inflammation in the lugs of coronavirus patients even worse, so reducing this inflammation, logically, makes them less likely to die. Is this a net benefit and a ‘breakthrough treatment’? I doubt that, given the fact that the majority of patients put on ventilators die anyway and thus there is nothing much to be gained from intubating patients with severe advanced Covid infection. But this is not just my opinion as a non expert; doctors treating patients suspect that ventilators might do more harm than good:

    “But others suggest the ventilators – which can make inflammation in the lungs worse – are being implemented too soon and harming coronavirus patients.

    In the most life-threatening cases, COVID-19 can permeate deep into the lungs and cause severe inflammation, making it hard to breathe.

    Pumping pressurised oxygen into the lungs can irritate the organs and damage them further.

    Dr Paul Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said this was a ‘vicious cycle’ for coronavirus patients.

    Scott Weingart, a critical care physician in New York, told Stat News coronavirus patients get worse ‘as a direct result of intubation’.

    He added: ‘High levels of force and oxygen levels, both in quest of restoring oxygen saturation levels to normal, can injure the lungs. I would do everything in my power to avoid intubating patients.’

    There are widespread reports that coronavirus sufferers are being ventilated for far longer than other types of patients.

    Patients with non-coronavirus related pneumonia are usually intubated for a day or two, compared to coronavirus patients who have can need a ventilator for up to two weeks.

    Pushing pressurised oxygen into the organs can cause them to become extremely inflamed and worsen the condition. Very high levels of oxygen can also be harmful.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8204459/Are-doctors-HARMING-coronavirus-patients-putting-ventilators-early.html

    Is it any wonder that treating Covid patients on ventilators with an anti-inflammatory drug increases their chances of surviving? No, it flipping well isn’t! In fact it’s bleeding obvious. If ventilating seriously ill Covid patients was the correct treatment but with serious side effects, then Dexamethasone might be said to be a valuable drug to treat Covid patients with very serious, advanced disease, in that it lessens the serious side effects, but the fact is, intubation is NOT generally the correct treatment for Covid patients whose often unprecedentedly low blood oxygen levels are a result, generally, not of lung damage, but oxygen starvation of the vascular system itself, caused by the virus. Hancock is a moron, and a lying moron at that.

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  54. Jaime we disagree most profoundly and I believe you selectively choose your sources. To follow your line of argument, NHS critical care doctors in hospital after hospital across the country are blindly following a policy that is killing patients unnecessarily and that they know this. I’m sure they are aware of the survival statistics being as bad as they are, but for many patients there is little alternative (other than to die), and for some at least some chance of recovery. I certainly signed up for ventilation, if it had been deemed necessary and within a day of being diagnosed. And all the information necessary for me to make a reasoned decision was given to me. I, like others reasoned that at least half a chance was better than none.

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  55. PS. It I had been informed about the results of the dexamethasone trial, I would have been even more confident that, if it became necessary for me to use a ventilator, that my chances of recovering were enhanced.
    Would you have rejected ventilator treatment if this had been presented to you as being necessary? Sounds like you would.

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  56. Yes Alan, knowing what I know now, I would have rejected being put on a ventilator. My faith in the NHS has been shattered these past few months with all that has happened. I accept that there are many, many professional nurses and doctors who put patient care at the very top of their list of priorities, but they operate within a corrupt management system and by no means are all employees in the NHS immune to this corruption. The NHS is open to all says Hancock. He’s lying and management tiers within the NHS are denying patients urgent treatment, life saving treatment even. I do not find it inconceivable that ventilators were being used even though staff knew they were next to useless and probably did more harm than good. I’m very glad that you were not put on a ventilator.

    “It’s the waiting that I now cannot accept. Initially, yes. But now? I turn on the TV to hear that the NHS is open to all; to come forward – we will be treated. It is not open. I have met a surgeon whom I like and trust enormously and he wants to help. He wants things to move forward. He knows this operation is urgent. But he, too, has to wait for a clear pathway to treatment. I believe it is deeply frustrating for him too.

    I have not walked for nearly three months. I have been trapped in my body but worse, in my mind. Thousands of lives, including mine, are at risk. People are suffering; some are dying. Something has to change, and fast.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/dislocated-hip-pain-bad-thought-taking-life/

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  57. PPS. The Oxford trial I was involved in involved about eight different treatments that included several anti-inflammatories. This Oxford study has revealed which is the most effective and just how effective it can be.
    As for Hydroxychloroquine this is of no use in UK hospitals. Hospitals only accept patients who have developed symptoms – mostly difficulty in breathing. By this time Hydroxychloroquine is no longer effective as numerous trials have demonstrated. But then the cry goes up that the trials are conducted too late, and must be administered earlier. But now hydroxychloroquine is a controlled drug only available and administered in hospitals that do not see patients that early. Its a catch 22 situation.

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  58. Alan, that Oxford trial which involved about eight different treatments is apparently also testing a drug which is traditionally used for ‘Delhi Belly’:

    “Scientists from the Recovery (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 therapy) trial – who released the dexamethasone results yesterday – have ongoing trials into four more treatments which could radically improve survival, including a drug usually used to treat Delhi Belly, or traveller’s diarrhea.”

    Guess what? It turns out that this drug is Azithromycin. Furthermore, it seems that it works even better when used in conjunction with HCQ! So how long before Hancock announces another ‘scientific breakthrough’ treatment for Covid-19 from a great British team of scientists?

    “Azithromycin

    The commonly used antibiotic is widely used to treat chest, sinus, throat and skin infections, travellers’ diarrhea – known as Delhi Belly – and sexually transmitted diseases.

    The drug, which costs just 10 pence per day, is so important it is on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) list of essential medicines which are the safest and most effective currently known.

    Azithromycin prevents bacteria from growing by interfering with their ability to produce proteins and is often used as an alternative for patients who are allergic to penicillin.

    But it can also stop inflammation and viral replication and is known to prevent the production of cytokines, which are important messengers for the immune system.

    Many patients who die from coronavirus suffer a so-called ‘cytokine storm’ in which the body reacts so aggressively to the invader that it causes dangerous blood-clotting (thrombosis) in the lungs which prevents patients being able to breathe.

    Immune cells rampage through the body beyond infected parts, damaging healthy tissues and preventing organs from getting enough blood. A rapid review by Oxford University which looked at three studies into using azithromycin for Covid-19 found mixed results. A small trial of 36 patients found those taking the antibiotic alongside hydroxychloroquine cleared the virus more quickly.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/17/analysis-drug-used-treat-delhi-belly-among-six-coronavirus-treatments/

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  59. Also, with regard to HCQ only, yes, Oxford are still running trials to see if it has any benefit in patients who are not hospitalised with very serious complications. So the government and government scientists’ bigging up of the steroid treatment whilst criticising HCQ looks like just political game playing to me. When they find that HCQ, HCQ/AZ does have significant clinical benefits, will they give credit where it is due to Didier Raoult?

    “Hydroxychloroquine

    Trials into the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine were stopped by Oxford University recently after showing no benefit and possible harms.

    It was hoped the drug would prevent the virus entering cells and small studies in France and China reported that patients who did not have severe symptoms recovered more quickly.

    The drug was widely praised by Donald Trump who said he was taking it himself to ward off the virus.

    However the Recovery trial released results on June 5 showing no clinical benefit for patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

    Yet there are still trials ongoing to see whether giving the drug to people early could be beneficial.

    Under the Principle (Platform Randomised trial of Interventions against COVID-19 in older people) trial carried out by Oxford University, older and vulnerable people with the disease will be given the medication to see if it can prevent them needing hospital treatment.”

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  60. Here’s another actual doctor who’s not impressed by Psycho Hancock’s exaggerated propaganda claims about Dexamethasone.

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/matt-hancock-is-wrong-dexamethasone-isn-t-a-coronavirus-breakthrough

    Here’s the Chief Medical Officer actually lying through his teeth on Twitter; a lie so huge, so obvious, so in your face, that most people can’t even see it’s a lie.

    We really are in very, very dangerous territory with this government.

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  61. Sorry to go on and on about this but it’s a scientific scandal which has huge implications I feel. It cannot be allowed to be swept under the carpet by the UK government and the complicit MSM. Hancock, the medical establishment, the NHS and Boris himself have participated in a medical scam which has killed, and will indeed kill, many many thousands of people. The HCQ fraud is just one particularly egregious aspect of that scam.

    “The only released data has come from the Recovery Trials, also referenced by the WHO. Yet the Recovery Trial has also been exposed as scientific nonsense. The deputy Chief Investigator of the Recovery Trials, Professor Martin Landray gave an interview to FranceSoir. What he revealed was quite remarkable.

    Firstly, the mortality rate of the hydroxychloroquine patients was a staggering 25.7%.

    The recommended hydroxychloroquine dose for an adult in the UK is no more than 200 – 400mg per day. In France 1800mg per day is considered to be lethal poisoning.

    Across 175 UK hospitals, 1542 patient participants in the Recovery Trials were given 2400mg (six times the recommended maximum dose) in the first twenty-four hours. This was followed up by ten days at twice the recommended maximum dose at 800mg.

    It isn’t really clear what the objective was. This wasn’t so much a trial of effectiveness, it looked more like an experiment in toxic poisoning. It would seem to account for the atrocious mortality rate.

    Explaining that the dose was chosen by using computer generated mathematical models, Prof Landry stated:

    The doses were chosen on the basis of pharmacokinetic modelling and these are in line with the sort of doses that you used for other diseases such as amoebic dysentery…..For a new disease such as Covid, there is no there is no approved dosing protocol. But the HCQ dosage used are not dissimilar to that used, as I said, in for example amoebic dysentery.

    Hydroxyquinoline – not hydroxychloroquine – is used for the treatment of amoebic dysentery. Perhaps it is not without good reason the Professor Didier Raoult described the Recovery Trial as “The Marx Brothers doing science,” though given the terrible death toll, it doesn’t really seem like much of a laughing matter.”

    https://www.ukcolumn.org/article/the-hydroxychloroquine-scandal

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  62. In this article of 17th June
    http://www.francesoir.fr/societe-sante/recovery-la-bonne-nouvelle-est-un-leurre-pour-cacher-les-incoherences-les-fautes-et
    France Soir accuses the Oxford University Recovery programme of announcing the non-news about the banal anti-inflammatory corticio-steroid Dexamethasone the 16th June, eight days after the results, in order to cover up the scandal of the massive over-prescribing of hydroxychloroquine, one day after France Soir had published this article
    http://www.francesoir.fr/politique-monde/covidpapers-recovery-incompetence-mensonge-manipulation-et-gros-dollars
    which accuses both professors Horby and Landray of lying, incompetence, and corruption at the hands of Big Pharma and the Gates Foundation.

    This is the latest article at France Soir:
    http://www.francesoir.fr/oxford-essai-clinique-recovery-overdosage-une-pilule-tres-dure-avaler-pour-les-patients
    which notes, among other things, that among the documentation for the research was a Hydroxychloroquine information sheet which went through three versions, the second version being 25 pages long, and the third version just three pages.
    The article is signed by  “Le collectif citoyen pour FranceSoir,” clearly a group of medical researchers.

    These articles contain information not in the Iain Davis article linked by Jaime above, and would be considered libellous in the UK. Would anyone be interested in publishing a translation do you think?

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  63. The maximum recommended dose of HCQ is:

    “800 mg salt (620 mg base) orally as an initial dose, followed by 400 mg salt (310 mg base) at 6, 24, and 48 hours after the initial dose
    Total dose: 2000 mg salt (1550 mg base)”

    This is for malaria. An overdose can be fatal.

    That’s 1200mg salt in the first 24 hours, then two more doses of 400mg spaced 24 hours apart.

    “FS : Are there any maximum dosage for HCQ in the UK?

    ML : I would have to check but it is much larger than the 2400mg, something like six or 10 times that.”

    They gave sick people suffering already from heart problems and diabetes 2400mg in the first 24 hours, then 800mg per day for the next 9 days: total 9600mg = nearly 10 times the max recommended cumulative dose. Martin Landray THINKS this is only about one TENTH the maximum dose (but he has to check). In actual fact, he’s out by a factor of 100 in the opposite direction!

    https://www.drugs.com/hydroxychloroquine.html

    Liked by 1 person

  64. My half-awake brain just alerted me to my basic maths error. 9600 is of course only nearly 5 times 2000, not 10, so Landray was out by a factor of 50 not 100. Still bad though.

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  65. That’s very interesting Andy, especially the bit about the critical period between infection and death. I’ve just skimmed it so far but this is illuminating:

    “The study was bound to find that together the five government non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) they considered contributed essentially 100% of the reduction in COVID-19 transmission, since in their model there is nothing else that could cause it.”

    Alas, poor Science, I knew him well.

    Liked by 2 people

  66. Him? Is former Madam Science now a Trans?
    (Excuse the flippancy for something so serious)

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  67. Alan, obviously, you did not get the connection to Shakespeare: ‘Alas, poor Yoric, I knew him’.

    Yoric, as far as I’m aware (I’m no Shakespeare buff) was not like Viola.

    Science has no specific gender that I’m aware of. To ad lib John Foxx:

    Science
    Is savage, tender
    It wears no future faces
    Owns just random gender.

    Increasingly, however, science is being assigned as having an ideology based on gender, i.e. feminist glaciology, or more commonly, the whole of science is deemed to be a patriarchy which must be dismantled and discarded as non-history on account of the shameful predominance of white men in its development and progress. The white women and non-Caucasians who also contributed significantly of course will be given honourary mentions and exonerated of all blame at its funeral. Have they torn down Newton’s statue yet? (If so, it’ll probably be because Antifa/BLM supporters are dyslexic: ‘We said Nelson you idiots’).

    Liked by 1 person

  68. It is worth noting that during the so-called Spanish influenza, the big pharma wonder drug was Bayer’s newly patented aspirin.
    Doctors gave prescriptions for huge doses of aspirin to fight the deadly virus. Up to 4grams!
    That is an actual toxic, and even lethal, dose.

    Liked by 2 people

  69. Mehta at Harvard, Ferguson and Flaxman at Imperial College, Landry and Horby at Oxford – the ongoing scandals surrounding major medical papers are like the last twenty years of climate science speeded up a hundred times.

    You could always argue that climate science was in its infancy, and that a guy counting tree rings or totting up thermometer readings was possibly not the sharpest twig on the stripbark pine, but these are top medical experts at top universities announcing results that have life or death consequences for us all – and they’re either incompetent or they’re making it up.

    How many MPs are there with medical qualifications, and are they on the relevant parliamentary committee? If one of them should happen to be your MP, a letter from an irate constituent might be in order..

    Liked by 1 person

  70. Hunterson: That’s amazing about Bayer and aspirin in 1918. Just 15 years later, as part of IG Farben, they were to lend a significant hand to the new kid on the populist block in Germany. A further ten years on it was the Bayer part of the conglomerate that supplied the Zyklon B insecticide to kill human beings in gas chambers. (Executives at Nuremberg said they didn’t know the intended use but it’s clear they did, as they happily removed the warning odor.) IG Farben also ran one of the subcamps at Auschwitz that worked its Jewish slaves to death. The Italian chemist Primo Levi surviving to tell that nightmarish tale with brilliance before the horror caught up with and destroyed him mentally.

    This link between pandemic and holocaust is sobering. But thank you very much for the education. Here’s to 25 years where we manage to deny history the chance to repeat itself.

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  71. Jaime I got diverted by other matters, but regarding the sex of science, occasionally it is portrayed as a bearded old man statue, but far more frequently the partially draped marble or bronze statues display decidedly female proportions. Not only for science in general, but for individual sciences as well. Failed to find an example of a climate science statue; would St. Greta sit perhaps?

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  72. I’m not sure how into science Mother Iowa is but there seems little doubt which pronouns apply.

    Sorry to lower the tone.

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  73. Alan, I guess it’s generally accepted that Mother Nature is female, so I suppose it might be logical to assume that our faltering attempts to decipher and untangle Her mysterious ways should be male. You could extend the metaphor by talking about science’s attempt to penetrate the depths of nature, but then it all gets a bit sordid! I do think though that this kind of symbolic imagery is what drives Green fanaticism; they seem to be fixated upon the alleged rape of Mother Earth by science and technology and its evil brother, capitalism, from which Green, ‘clean’ technology and Mann-made climate science somehow gets an honorary exemption.

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  74. Those statues of Science I have information about are all older than climate science, greenness and being woke.

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  75. Of course Alan. Science goes right back to the Greeks and Babylonians – patriarchal societies. Matriarchal societies – from whence derives ‘Mother Earth’ go back even further. Wokeness and Green ideology are fairly recent phenomena but they have deep roots.

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  76. Professor Raoult has just finished a three hour-long audition before the Parliamentary Commission investigating the French government’s reaction to the pandemic. A Hydroxychloroquine bomb has exploded, which I’ll be writing up as soon as they publish the text of his evidence.

    A couple of titbits:
    He recounts having received menacing emails, which he reported to the police, which turned out to emanate from a person who had received finance from the Gilead pharmaceutical company.

    The week of the publication of the article analysed above, the Lancet received two other articles on the same subject, both favourable to the use of HCQ, one written by Professor Raoult, based on 3000 patients at his institute, and the other a meta-study of half a million subjects, which Pr Raoult peer-reviewed and recommended for publication. The Lancet refused both and went with the retracted one, which Raoult described as fake.

    You’ll remember that in Paul’s original article on Professor Raoult,
    https://cliscep.com/2020/03/28/french-group-claims-malaria-drug-cures-coronavirus/
    he mentioned his climate scepticism. The discussion ranged far beyond the virus, touching on the nature of science, the futility of mathematical modelling in medicine, and the relations between commerce, science and government. If the media don’t manage to reduce the story to the ego of one man, then this may become very big indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  77. Geoff wrote: “If the media don’t manage to reduce the story to the ego of one man”

    One has to wonder why they try so hard? The media often lap up the story of the maverick who sticks it to the system, so why not now? I doubt they’re all receiving payoffs from pharmaceutical companies.

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  78. DAVEJR
    In France the media are indeed behaving as you’d expect and lapping up the story of the maverick. But initial curiosity tends to harden into ideological positions (which is normal in a democracy.)

    When the Paris medical establishment tried to rein in Raoult’s independent research he sought and got financial aid from right wing local and regional councils, and he’s published opinion pieces in the past (on climate science among other things) in the right wing press, so the main right wing opposition Republican party loves him. A part of the left loves him too because of his Robin Hood character, his work in Africa, and the fact that he seems to have been the target of Big Pharma. His enemies are in medical establishment and the government which has been shown up for slavishly following the establishment’s advice. Also in a part of the left wing press (particularly Mediapart, an excellent investigating site, alas) which is intelligent enough to realise that his criticisms are fatal for climate science.

    The three hours plus of interrogation were a joy to watch. Most of the commission members had medical backgrounds, so could ask intelligent questions. The only person who looked unhappy was the chairwoman from Macron’s majority party. Raoul played his role of garrulous old boffin to perfection, digressing from anecdotes about Louis XIV to discussion of epistemology, while making accusations against the medical mafia establishment and Big Pharma which would be unthinkable in the US or UK. What the media do with it we shall have to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. Professor Raoult has just shared this study (published July 1st) on Twitter:

    “In the multivariable Cox regression model of mortality using the group receiving neither hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin as the reference, treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone decreased the mortality hazard ratio by 66% (p < 0.001), and hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin decreased the mortality hazard ratio by 71% (p < 0.001).

    The results of this study demonstrate that in a strictly monitored protocol-driven in-hospital setting, treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone and hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin was associated with a significant reduction in mortality among patients hospitalized with COVID-19."

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Jaime: When I first mentioned ‘chloroquine phosphate’ on Cliscep Jeff Id was clearly the climate sceptic who’d been pushing it most behind the scenes, leading to the exciting sequence of WUWT, Delingpole and Trump doing so in three memorable days. Anyway, Jeff has also now picked up on this new study and he thinks it’s far better than any one preceding it. Good news.

    Liked by 2 people

  81. I don’t think the significance of this new study can be played down. It is a massive blow for the media and the Trump haters and a significant coup for the Trump administration. The media, of course, will play it down as much as they can, but the facts remain, the media mocked Trump for promoting a life-saving medication and the medical establishment conspired (yes, conspired) to discredit those studies (not very well done, admittedly, according to Jeff Id) which showed the benefits of early administration of HCQ. In particular, the British government and British medical establishment have scandalously dismissed HCQ on the basis of studies which treated very, very ill patients with TOXIC amounts of HCQ. How many lives could have been saved in the absence of the concerted media campaign against Trump’s ‘mickey mouse’ treatment and the medical establishment’s fraudulent attempt to discredit HCQ? We can only guess.

    “Our results do differ from some other studies,” Dr. Marcus Zervos, who heads the hospital’s infectious diseases unit, said at a news conference. “What we think was important in ours … is that patients were treated early. For hydroxychloroquine to have a benefit, it needs to begin before the patients begin to suffer some of the severe immune reactions that patients can have with COVID.

    “Fortunately, the Trump Administration secured a massive supply of hydroxychloroquine for the national stockpile months ago,” a statement read. “Yet this is the same drug that the media and the Biden campaign spent weeks trying to discredit and spread fear and doubt around because President Trump dared to mention it as a potential treatment for coronavirus.”

    It added: “The new study from the Henry Ford Health System should be a clear message to the media and the Democrats: stop the bizarre attempts to discredit hydroxychloroquine to satisfy your own anti-Trump agenda. It may be costing lives.”

    The findings, conservatives said, highlighted efforts by media partisans to undermine confidence in the drug simply to undercut the president.”

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hydroxychloroquine-helped-save-coronavirus-study

    Raoult pointed out the vital necessity of early treatment again and again and again, but he was ignored.

    Liked by 2 people

  82. “Were the failed studies faulty because of ignorance or by design? Who gains from them? The drug companies can’t make much money on a generic drug, and they found in the media and the scientific community willing accomplices to stop its use. Gilead Sciences Inc. gives grants in addition to those mentioned above to Oxford University and the WHO. Is it possible that people in these prestigious institutions may have their integrity compromised by money, or is it mere coincidence that Gilead with their rival treatment is funding them?

    Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, and loss ruin, suffering and devastation to our economies and societies avoided if we simply started using this safe, cheap and readily available treatment. It is a ludicrous and tragic farce that because of the massive misinformation on behalf of corporate greed and political point scoring that we are not.”

    This is a huge scandal, make no mistake. It’s not going away. Hancock is in the thick of it, claiming only a few days ago that the ONLY treatment for Covid-19 is Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory. The links between this government and the pharmaceutical industry (and the media, possibly) need to be fully exposed. Wherever you look at this government’s absurd, destructive, corrupt, incompetent, massively authoritarian and downright deceitful response to Covid-19, you see misery, death and destruction in its wake.

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  83. Geoff thank you for alerting me to the Duran article. I was particularly impressed by it in that it built a prima facie case, first reviewing the evidence for using hydroxychloroquine plus additives, but then reviewing the counter evidence and finding it wanting (or even lending support for the use of the drug). The suggestions that use of hydroxychloroquine has been opposed because of political (anti-Trump) or big-Pharma interference comes at the end so that evaluation of the critical evidence is not contaminated.
    A near textbook example of how to evaluate evidence and convey it to an audience of non-experts.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. “So what is it if not a conspiracy? Mass hysteria in the higher reaches of the medical profession?”

    Probably both in this case. Mass hysteria within many orgs that Trump couldn’t be right, mustn’t be right, must perforce always be the exact opposite of right, not just wrong but horribly wrong, all hugely whipped up by an anti-Trump media, as the article notes. Prompting conspiracy, with many convenient allies too. But the conspiracy angle is low in that per the definition of a conspiracy, there has to be secrecy, plus at least some level of surface plausibility. Whereas the attempts to bring down HCQ could hardly be more visible and risible, e.g. per the scandal subject of this post; it was never possibly going to fly and yet they still published it anyhow. That’s just not rational, and a ‘good’ conspiracy (by which I mean ‘likely to be successful’) needs rationality. If the wild hysteria gains sufficient momentum before harder evidence of effectiveness of lack thereof has emerged, the scales are seriously tipped one way; as we’ve seen in the climate domain over much longer timescales and a more intractable problem, all supporters of an already pre-determined emotional consensus blind each other to even looking for evidence against.

    Liked by 1 person

  85. This article brings the Hydroxychloroquine / Remdesivir story up to date, and acknowledges the French paper France Soir as having broken the story in the MSM.
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/scientific-corona-lies-and-big-pharma-corruption-hydroxychloroquine-versus-gileads-remdesivir/5717718
    It also reveals that an ex-head of Gilead was Donald Rumsfeld. Every right-thinking left-of-centre editor and her dog hates Rumsfeld, so why so shy about investigating Gilead? Because they hate Trump more?

    Like

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