As scientists race towards getting a drug or vaccine for Covid-19, slip-ups and half-baked findings are coming up, plunging the World Health Organisations and countries following its guidelines into confusion.
Weeks after declaring that Chloroquine was no use treating Covid-19, WHO came back again resuming its human trials. Nigeria and others following the lead had eat their words, and resumed trials too.
No reason –other than safety concern—was given before the body stopped its initial Solidarity Trial. Its dependence on The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (working on using high-blood pressure drug , two leading scientific journals, however, is at the heart of the whole chopping and changing.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said earlier a Lancets observational study on hydroxycholoroquine and chloroquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised.
“The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate,’ said the DG.
“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.’
For the said publications, the two had worked with a below-the-radar data company Surgisphere whose data—suggesting higher mortality rate—had influenced the Lancet initial publication May 22.
But Surgisphere refused to share its data, which violates the ethics of science—peer review. So Lancet and the New Englnd Journal of Medicine had to retract the study.
And WHO, too, hastily somersaulted, and resumed the hydrochlorine trial.
In case The Lancet comes forward with another hasty study later, confirming the drug is lethal, WHO may stop it trial again.
This doesn’t help the public. It could undermine politicians’ trust in science, and , of course, in WHO.
The body has been having problem with US President Donald Trump over its complicity in the spread of the virus. And despite the body warning chloroquine is dangerous for treating and preventing Covid-19 based on many studies, Trump has been dosing on the arthritis drug to keep himself uninfected.
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, in a report by Politico. “But they are also “a reminder that [the] scientific publication largely worked,” he added.
Opposition researchers in support of Trump have roped in The Lancet into the conspiracy theories spinning around WHO and China, where the virus first broke out.
Surgisphere CEO Sapan Desai has yet to speak publicly about the retraction.