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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The epic battle against coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories – Nature (Philip Ball & Amy Maxmen | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 18, 2020
 

Analysts are tracking false rumours about COVID-19 in hopes of curbing their spread.

In the first few months of 2020, wild conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and the new coronavirus began sprouting online. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist who has funded efforts to control the virus with treatments, vaccines and technology, had himself created the virus, argued one theory. He had patented it, said another. He’d use vaccines to control people, declared a third. The false claims quietly proliferated among groups predisposed to spread the message — people opposed to vaccines, globalization or the privacy infringements enabled by technology. Then one went mainstream.

There’s a second pandemic that has circled the globe. It isn’t a virus, but it imperils life, wastes precious resources and impairs efforts to deal with  COVID-19.  It is the misinformation, conspiracy theories and wild theories running rampant around the world.  Dealing with both pandemics will require science, sober reason and commitment.

On 19 March, the website Biohackinfo.com falsely claimed that Gates planned to use a coronavirus vaccine as a ploy to monitor people through an injected microchip or quantum-dot spy software. Two days later, traffic started flowing to a YouTube video on the idea. It’s been viewed nearly two million times. The idea reached Roger Stone — a former adviser to US President Donald Trump — who in April discussed the theory on a radio show, adding that he’d never trust a coronavirus vaccine that Gates had funded. The interview was covered by the newspaper the New York Post, which didn’t debunk the notion. Then that article was liked, shared or commented on by nearly one million people on Facebook. “That’s better performance than most mainstream media news stories,” says Joan Donovan, a sociologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Donovan charts the path of this piece of disinformation like an epidemiologist tracking the transmission of a new virus. As with epidemics, there are ‘superspreader’ moments. After the New York Post story went live, several high-profile figures with nearly one million Facebook followers each posted their own alarming comments, as if the story about Gates devising vaccines to track people were true.

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The Lancet has made one of the biggest retractions in modern history. How could this happen? – The Guardian (James Heathers | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 8, 2020
 

The now retracted paper halted hydroxychloroquine trials. Studies like this determine how people live or die tomorrow

The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. Recently, they published an article on Covid patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with a dire conclusion: the drug increases heartbeat irregularities and decreases hospital survival rates. This result was treated as authoritative, and major drug trials were immediately halted – because why treat anyone with an unsafe drug?

Now, that Lancet study has been retracted, withdrawn from the literature entirely, at the request of three of its authors who “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”. Given the seriousness of the topic and the consequences of the paper, this is one of the most consequential retractions in modern history.

It is natural to ask how this is possible. How did a paper of such consequence get discarded like a used tissue by some of its authors only days after publication? If the authors don’t trust it now, how did it get published in the first place?

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(China, Australia) Journals have retracted or flagged more than 40 papers from China that appear to have used organ transplants from executed prisoners – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 29, 2020
 

Journals have retracted 30 papers, and added expressions of concern to 13 more, because the research likely involved organs from executed prisoners in China.

The issue surfaced as early as 2016, and two of the retractions occurred in 2017, but all of the other retractions, and all of the expressions of concern, happened after a February 2019 paper by Wendy Rogers of Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues calling for the retraction of more than 400 papers

reporting research based on use of organs from executed prisoners, and an international summit to develop future policy for handling Chinese transplant research.

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(France) French hydroxychloroquine-COVID-19 study withdrawn – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 25, 2020
 

The authors of a preprint on use of hydroxychloroquine — the controversial drug heavily promoted by, and now apparently taken by, President Trump, at least for a few more days — along with azithromycin for COVID-19 have withdrawn the paper.

Whatever you might think of peer review, sometimes it plays an important role.  We have listed 8 related items.

The preprint, “Hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin: a potential interest in reducing in-hospital morbidity due to COVID-19 pneumonia (HI-ZY-COVID)?” was posted to medRxiv on May 11 by authors at Hopital Raymond Poincare, and sometime yesterday replaced with this statement:
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The authors have withdrawn this manuscript and do not wish it to be cited. Because of controversy about hydroxychloroquine and the retrospective nature of their study, they intend to revise the manuscript after peer review.

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