New COVID-19 studies raise flags, under audit

DETROIT – When news is reported, it’s important to follow the story and give updates as things change.

Last week, Local 4 discussed a very large study that raised concerns about hydroxychloroquine’s safety in COVID-19 patients.

ORIGINAL STORY: Recent findings on hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment not favorable

From the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a tidal wave of research into all things COVID-19. Many papers gained notoriety by making themselves available on so-called “pre-print” sites, where the research could be read before it was formally peer-reviewed and published.

Because some of that research has turned out to be flawed, there has been more focus on research published in reputable journals. However, with the rush to publish new information, even reputable journals may not be completely vetting some articles.

A study published in the British Journal Lancet on May 22 looked at over 96,000 coronavirus patients in 671 hospitals across six continents and did not find any benefit to chloroquine or hydroxychloroqine alone or in combination with antibiotics like zithromax.

More importantly, the study identified potential harm. Enough harm that -- based on their results -- the World Health Organization temporarily halted their research into the drug. Subsequent to its publication several other research groups have questioned how that much data could have been amassed globally in such a short time.

The data was provided by an analytics company called Surgisphere Corp. As a result of the concerns raised, their data is now under audit and both the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine -- who published a different study based on Surgishphere data -- have issued an “expression of concern” over the papers. This is essential a notification that the results are in question and additional review is pending.

The New England Journal of Medicine’s paper under review suggested the use of blood pressure medications did not have any effect on death rates in COVID-19.

While an “expression of concern” isn’t a retraction, it’s definitely enough that until the issues are resolved the data shouldn’t be used for decision making. If this data turns out to have been falsified, it would be a huge scandal.

Local 4 will keep viewers and readers updated with results of the reviews of the studies.

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