The Lancet’s Frenzy To Prove Trump Wrong on Hydroxychloroquine Backfires
June 8, 2020 (EIRNS)—The media have been quick to seize upon the medical proof that hydroxychloroquine promoted by President Donald Trump—led to increased cases of heart arrhythmia and death. On June 3, the British medical journal The Lancet, was forced to retract the paper that it had published by Dr. Sapan Desai and three others, after Desai’s database was challenged. Desai’s private company, Chicago-based Surgisphere, refused to allow its database to be examined, and his three co-authors withdrew their names from the paper. In the process, the World Health Organization’s aggressive mass clinical trial, Solidarity Trial, lost at least ten days of work. The controversy begun by The Lancet forced WHO to suspend its work on May 23, which was able to restart on June 3. The hiatus was particularly unfortunate, as Solidarity Trial was designed to reduce the trial time by 80%, deliberately choosing to avoid the slow, cautious series of mini-trials. The Lancet’s recklessness sideswiped WHO’s proper and calculated risk.
Previously, Desai’s Surgisphere has been suspected of manipulation of data because of a lack of transparency. And Desai himself seems to have manufactured evidence in his own graduate work at the University of Illinois, by cloning images to establish evidence.
The Lancet’s longtime editor Richard Horton is perhaps best-known for taking 12 years before finally retracting the 1998 publication of Andrew Wakefield’s groundbreaking study, linking the measles vaccine to autism. In the meantime, an anti-vaccine campaign was born, playing upon the frustrations of parents of autistic children—one that threatens new outbreaks of measles, as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) three-component vaccine provides the best protection of each of the individual components. Wakefield’s original study purported to show that traces of the measles vaccine would cause toddlers to develop irritable bowel syndrome and onwards to autism. Data were manipulated, as none of the 12 children actually showed any trace of measles virus in the colonoscopies administered.
A year after Dr. Wakefield lost his British medical license in 2010 and the article was finally retracted shortly beforehand, Horton still defended Wakefield against allegations of research misconduct with the claim that Wakefield had clarified everything.
This time, Horton was forced to retract in, not 12 years, but less than 12 days.