Scientists question the data bank used in the coronavirus study | Instant News


Since the outbreak began, researchers have rushed to publish studies on new coronaviruses. On Tuesday, for the second time in recent days, scientists questioned the data used in the study in two leading medical journals.

A group of scientists who asked questions last week about a study in Lancet about the use of anti-malaria drugs in coronavirus patients now object to papers about blood pressure drugs in the New England Journal of Medicine, published by some of the same authors and relying on the same data registry. .

Shortly after their open letter was posted online on Tuesday, NEJM editors posted “expressions of concern” about the paper, and said they had asked the authors of the papers to provide evidence that the data was reliable. Lancet followed, saying that the editor had commissioned an independent audit of the data.

Both studies relied on analysis of patient results from a private database run by a company called Surgisphere, which said it had detailed information on nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients from 1,200 health facilities on six continents. Many experts say they did not know about its existence until now.

The two papers were published in May within a few weeks of each other in a highly respected medical journal that was the subject of peer studies before publication. Both have a considerable effect, stopping clinical trials of malaria drugs and providing guarantees about the risk of blood pressure medications taken by millions of patients.

But scientists have not seen the large data set that Surgisphere says has been built, and questions about its origin are increasing. In an open letter to the NEJM paper’s author and journal editor, Dr. Eric J. Rubin, more than 100 doctors, researchers and statisticians demanded more detailed information about the patient data on which the research was based, and requested independent validation.

The study is said to analyze 8,910 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized until mid-March in 169 medical centers in Asia, Europe and North America.

The first author of these two papers is Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, a cardiovascular specialist and professor at Harvard Medical School. The second author is Dr. Sapan S. Desai, owner and founder of Surgisphere.

Desai, who has defended both the study and its database, said he and his co-authors on the Lancet study had approved a third-party audit. He also said that he was arranging the terms of the confidentiality agreement that would allow NEJM editors to view the data they requested.

In their letter to NEJM, the critics pointed out “a great inconsistency” between the number of cases recorded in several countries and the number of patient outcomes reported by researchers during the same period. In particular, they said, “it is difficult to reconcile” Surgisphere data from the UK with government reports. This paper reports that 706 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 confirmed in only seven of 1,257 National Health Service hospitals in the United Kingdom. But most corona virus patients were hospitalized in Britain initially in London, and no London borough or hospital has more than 100 confirmed cases on March 16, critics say.

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