Hydroxychloroquine for covid-19: the end of the line?BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2378 (Published 15 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2378
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A long article in the Paris 'Le Monde' refers to the Surgisphere scandal.
This is an example of how peer review, even in journals such as the Lancet, can fail.
This is an indication that data can be manipulated in the digital, 'Cloud' context. The amounts of data were huge, indeed elephantine, from hospitals all over the world, for the study in question.
This is a sign of how a journal may favour a result, a conclusion, that it wants a priori. The 'hope' was that the controversial drug for Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine, could be categorically rejected.
The Le Monde article does not refer only to what it terms 'Lancetgate'. It adds also that France finances researchers according to their number of articles and citations. It cynically adds that 'autocitations - citing one's own papers - is a means to take a part of the one and a half billion euros given annually by Paris to scientists in line with the 'citation count'.
The Le Monde article has something verging on brutal sarcasm about how today's science works. The paper implies that data, citations, papers, peer review, and so on, can all be 'cooked', manipulated.
The COVID-19 crisis has not been much of a victory for Big Pharma. Testing with the adequate sensitivity and specificity has not been guaranteed. The diagnostic industry has let down the NHS. As for a vaccine, none exists to forestall any coronavirus. Big Pharma is probably not going to provide the necessary vaccine soon.
With the arrival of a Biblical plague, Big Pharma has hopelessly dithered, ducked, and disappointed.
The Surgisphere disaster possesses a grim, frightening resonance with regard to how science can be corrupted, just like society in general.
Dossier: Covid-19: le
Competing interests: No competing interests