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Clinical characteristics of 113 deceased patients with coronavirus disease 2019: retrospective study

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1091 (Published 26 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1091

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Re: Clinical characteristics of 113 deceased patients with coronavirus disease 2019: retrospective study

Dear Editor
This study has been extremely useful for clinicians elsewhere in the world, and we are grateful for the expedited review and publication in the BMJ.

However, there seems to be an overlap between this publication and a preprint published on MedRXiv on 20 February (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.18.20023242v1). While this is not unreasonable, and in fact is preferred to get the data out as fast as possible, it would be useful for readers to notify them on the preprint server that this has been published in the BMJ, and for BMJ readers to be aware that an earlier version was posted on a preprint server.

Similarly, there is a paper published in Kidney International, which also mentions the exact same number of deaths, 113 in number (https://www.kidney-international.org/article/S0085-2538(20)30255-6/fulltext). That paper gives more nuanced details about kidney involvement, however, it would again be useful for readers to be aware that these publications come from the same data set.

The conclusions above are made from the fact that the numbers seem to be very close, and the data comes from the same institution with many authors being in common. There is nothing wrong in these papers been published in this manner, in this responder's view, however, transparent notification would be useful for readers, as well as researchers who might be looking at a quantitative synthesis of the literature. For more on the utility of preprints, BMJ readers might read this blogpost by J. Brian Byrd (http://www.nephjc.com/news/2020/3/21/byrds-words-preprints-and-peer-review).

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 April 2020
Swapnil Hiremath
Nephrologist
University of Ottawa
1967 Riverside Dr