Sen. Ron Johnson Requests Documents from Medical Journals That Retracted COVID-19 Studies

 Sen. Ron Johnson Requests Documents from Medical Journals That Retracted COVID-19 Studies

Johnson posts full response to The Washington Post

Sen. Ron Johnson has written to two major medical journals, requesting details relating to the publishing and subsequent retractions of two COVID-19 papers in 2020 that were based on a questionable dataset.

One of the retracted studies, published in The Lancet in May 2020, indicated that COVID-19 patients who took the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine had a greater mortality rate than those who didn’t. Following the publication of the paper, the World Health Organization and other organizations passed clinical trials of the medicine due to safety concerns.

The other retracted study, which was published in May 2020 in The New England Journal of Medicine, claimed that blood pressure drugs were safe for those who had the virus.

Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, wrote to both journals on Tuesday, saying it was “concerning and shameful” that the studies were published. The senator demanded that the journals submit information relating to the studies’ publication and retraction, as well as any correspondence between the journals and US government employees regarding the research.

“It is a largely unreported scandal that these medical journals published studies on COVID-19 based on highly questionable data while ignoring or suppressing potentially helpful information on early treatment,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner. “Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine have failed to be transparent, just like our federal health agencies. Americans should be able to rely on these journals to provide honest and accurate information in order for them to make difficult healthcare decisions. It is beyond unfortunate that they have not always received that.”

According to the Guardian, both studies were based on an early-pandemic dataset developed by Surgisphere that purported to contain detailed medical records on 96,000 COVID-19 patients across six continents, despite the fact that the company had only 11 employees on staff, many of whom had little or no scientific or statistical background.

The Surgisphere database was “almost certainly a scam,” according to data scientist Peter Ellis, who told the Guardian in June 2020.

“There’s no evidence online of [Surgisphere] having any analytical software earlier than a year ago,” Ellis said. “It takes months to get people to even look into joining these databases, it involves network review boards, security people, and management. It just doesn’t happen with a sign-up form and a conversation.”

The studies were withdrawn by The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine after Surgisphere declined to give researchers complete access to the dataset for an independent evaluation.

According to the New York Times, New England Journal of Medicine Editor-in-Chief Dr. Eric Rubin remarked when the study was retracted, “We shouldn’t have published this.”

Dr. Richard Horton, the Lancet’s Editor-in-Chief, went even further, calling the retracted hydroxychloroquine study a “fabrication” and “a monumental fraud.”

Jennifer Zeis, a spokeswoman for the New England Publication of Medicine, acknowledged that the journal had received Johnson’s letter and was working on a response.

Related post