Geneva: Last week based on a medical research report in The Lancet, the World Health Organisation (WHO) dropped hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) from its global study into COVID-19 treatments. Yesterday WHO did a rethink and has decided to resume the HCQ arm of solidarity trial.
While the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated that the Executive Group (EG) of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug. This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed. “
This shocking truth revealed in the investigations of The Guardian is that US firm whose study The Lancet published and WHO relied to drop HCQ from its global study into COVID-19 treatments has a handful of who employees who have little or no scientific training. One of its employee is a science fiction writer and another an adult content model.
The Chicago-based company Surgisphere owns a questionable database that has been used for studies published in the The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine.
“We are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information,” said a statement issued by The Lancet on Wednesday.
The question is whether WHO jumped to use the US firm Surgisphere study to counter US President Donald Trump focus on HCQ. Trump had even claimed to take HCQ himself.
Trump has also ordered a considerable quantity of HCQ from India.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO stated last week that in light of a paper published in The Lancet, that showed people taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) were at a higher risk of death and heart-related problems than those who were not taking HCQ.
Dr Tedros revealed that the Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.
Yesterday, however, Dr Tedros and WHO did a rethink on HCQ after the investigative report by The Guardian.
The World Health Organization and a number of national governments have changed their Covid-19 policies and treatments on the basis of flawed data from a little-known US healthcare analytics company, also calling into question the integrity of key studies published in some of the world’s most prestigious medical journals according to The Guardian.
Here is what The Guardian investigations revealed:
- A search of publicly available material suggests several of Surgisphere’s employees have little or no data or scientific background. An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess.
- The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday.
- While Surgisphere claims to run one of the largest and fastest hospital databases in the world, it has almost no online presence. Its Twitter handle has fewer than 170 followers, with no posts between October 2017 and March 2020.
- Until Monday, the “get in touch” link on Surgisphere’s homepage redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, raising questions about how hospitals could easily contact the company to join its database.
- Desai has been named in three medical malpractice suits, unrelated to the Surgisphere database. In an interview with the Scientist, Desai previously described the allegations as “unfounded”.
- In 2008, Desai launched a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo promoting a wearable “next generation human augmentation device that can help you achieve what you never thought was possible”. The device never came to fruition.
- Desai’s Wikipedia page has been deleted following questions about Surgisphere and his history, first raised in 2010.
The Guardian investigations serious questions on the Solidarity Trial conducted by the WHO and the EG members conducting the solidarity trial, that it did not verify the credibility of the organisation conducting the research study before dropping HCQ only because the study appeared on The Lancet.