Lancet Retracted Sham Hit-Piece 'Study' on HCQ

The Lancet study about hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) which was exposed as a really bad study has recently been retracted. The WHO had immediately paused all HCQ the trials until a "committee reviews all available data on COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine."

It had concluded:

Compared with the control group (0·3%), hydroxychloroquine (6·1%; 2·369, 1·935–2·900), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (8·1%; 5·106, 4·106–5·983), chloroquine (4·3%; 3·561, 2·760–4·596), and chloroquine with a macrolide (6·5%; 4·011, 3·344–4·812) were independently associated with an increased risk of de-novo ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalisation.

We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.

It's odd that it was even published in the first place. It wouldn't have passed peer review, yet it was posted -- it seems -- for political reasons.

The reason this study was important geo-politically, was that it resulted in many suspensions of (HCQ) studies. Not only the who, but the UK and France halted clinical trials as well.

Some of the objections to the retracted study were about the mysterious data firm, Surgisphere. They allegedly got so much data in a short period of time from many countries. Something that would seem highly unlikely. And it seems this might all have been bogus data.

Surgisphere was founded by 41-year-old Sapan Desai, an MBA who also holds a medical degree and a Ph.D. Speaking to Bloomberg, Desai claims his 12-year-old company used machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate the process of data analytics, as it's the only way possible to do it.

"It is important to understand the nature of this database. We are not responsible for the source data, thus the labor intensive task required for exporting the data from an EHR (electronic health record), converting it into the format required by our data dictionary, and fully de-identifying the data is done by the healthcare partner. Surgisphere does not reconcile languages or coding systems."

Yet, no machine learning or artificial intelligence contributors were listed in the studies that used his data.

As zerohedge summarized, key questions over Desai's data include:

  • How did this tiny firm operating out of a guy's house procure an "unrealistically high number of electronic patient records in Africa" as well as their European figures "given the continent's strict rules around health privacy," according to Bloomberg?
  • Why does Desai's dataset have more patients than would appear likely given the dates and spread of COVID-19, particularly in the UK?
  • Why aren't any artificial intelligence or machine learning experts listed in the now-retracted Lancet paper?
  • Why won't Desai answer questions over whether his company has a board or a scientific committee?
  • Why does their data used in the retracted New England Journal of Medicine study include ethnic information on French patients such as skin color, when it's illegal to collect such data in France, and typically requires approval by the CNIL privacy watchdog (which told Bloomberg it hadn't received any requests from Surgisphere).

Bloomberg looked at the viability for Desai's claims that his data is still legitimate:

Still, the Surgisphere studies were highly unusual in that they claimed to quickly assemble data from hundreds of anonymous hospitals, using numerous electronic medical records systems, under different privacy laws across many countries on multiple continents. And even more strangely, for studies that claimed a massive feat of data integration in record-setting time, they had no biostatisticians listed as authors that might have helped pull all this data together.

More typically, when medical scientists do such studies they rely on clearly named and reputable government databases in one country or state that researchers are able to access.

Surgisphere said its information comes from “a registry, with data obtained from electronic health records” of a “very specific group of hospitalized patients with Covid-19.” The company “directly integrates with the EHRs of our hospital customers,” and “has permission to include these hospitals’ EHR data in its query-able registry/database of real-world, real-time patient encounters.”

No explanation for how he managed to get so much data from so many countries when researchers the world over can't do that. Surgisphere won't provide names of who gave them the data. As far as we can tell, the data is fraudulent. Desai claimes to have worked with Scotland's National Health Service, which they told Bloomboerg he didn't.

And this is the source of the data used in the study that was not peer reviewed by a prestigious journal, yet it was published, and resulted in delays for HCQ trials. Studies like this, and the journals that publish them for seeming political reasons, do a disservice to the scientific field. Even the study was a sham even if the data was real. These so-called researchers should be ashamed. It smells orchestrated on many fronts.

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