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(France) He Was a Science Star. Then He Promoted a Questionable Cure for Covid-19 – New York Times Magazine (Scott Sayare | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 23, 2020
 

The man behind Trump’s favorite unproven treatment has made a great career assailing orthodoxy. His claim of a 100 percent cure rate shocked scientists around the world.

When diagnosing the ills afflicting modern science, an entertainment that, along with the disparagement of his critics and fellow researchers, he counts among his great delights, the eminent French microbiologist Didier Raoult will lightly stroke his beard, lean back in his seat and, with a thin but unmistakable smile, declare the poor patient to be stricken with pride. Raoult, who has achieved international fame since his proposed treatment for Covid-19 was touted as a miracle cure by President Trump, believes that his colleagues fail to see that their ideas are the products of mere intellectual fashions — that they are hypnotized by methodology into believing that they understand what they do not and that they lack the discipline of mind that would permit them to comprehend their error. “Hubris,” Raoult told me recently, at his institute in Marseille, “is the most common thing in the world.” It is a particularly dangerous malady in doctors like him, whose opinions are freighted with the responsibility of life and death. “Someone who doesn’t know is less stupid than someone who wrongly thinks he does,” he said. “Because it is a terrible thing to be wrong.”

Gary’s view of the Commander in Tweet dropped further this week.  Is it possible to have an approval rating below zero?  After the US President announced he was taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19, FOX News warned its viewers that copying the President could be lethal.  The response?   The President tweeted Fox’s standards were dropping and he was looking for another news outlet … 😐 …

Raoult, who founded and directs the research hospital known as the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, or IHU, has made a great career assailing orthodoxy, in both word and practice. “There’s nothing I like more than blowing up a theory that’s been so nicely established,” he once said. He has a reputation for bluster but also for a certain creativity. He looks where no one else cares to, with methods no one else is using, and finds things. In just the past 10 years, he has helped identify nearly 500 novel species of human-borne bacteria, about one-fifth of all those named and described. Until recently, he was perhaps best known as the discoverer of the first giant virus, a microbe that, in his opinion, suggests that viruses ought to be considered a fourth and separate domain of living things. The discovery helped win him the Grand Prix Inserm, one of France’s top scientific prizes. It also led him to believe that the tree of life suggested by Darwinian evolution is “entirely false,” he told me, and that Darwin himself “wrote nothing but inanities.” He detests consensus and comity; he believes that science, and life, ought to be a fight.
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It is in this spirit that, over the objections of his peers, and no doubt because of them, too, he has promoted a combination of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, and azithromycin, a common antibiotic, as a remedy for Covid-19. He has taken to declaring, “We know how to cure the disease.” Trump was not the only one eager to embrace this possibility. By the time I arrived in Marseille, some version of Raoult’s treatment regimen had been authorized for testing or use in France, Italy, China, India and numerous other countries. One in every five registered drug trials in the world was testing hydroxychloroquine.
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(US) JetBlue’s Founder Helped Fund A Stanford Study That Said The Coronavirus Wasn’t That Deadly – Buzzfeed News (Stephanie M. Lee | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 22, 2020
 

A Stanford whistleblower complaint alleges that the controversial John Ioannidis study failed to disclose important financial ties and ignored scientists’ concerns that their antibody test was inaccurate.

A highly influential coronavirus antibody study was funded in part by David Neeleman, the JetBlue Airways founder and a vocal proponent of the idea that the pandemic isn’t deadly enough to justify continued lockdowns.

That’s according to a complaint from an anonymous whistleblower, filed with Stanford University last week and obtained by BuzzFeed News, about the study conducted by the famous scientist John Ioannidis and others. The complaint cites dozens of emails, including exchanges with the airline executive while the study was being conducted.

The study — released as a non-peer-reviewed paper, or preprint, on April 17 — made headlines around the world with a dramatic finding: Based on antibodies in thousands of Silicon Valley residents’ blood samples, the number of coronavirus infections was up to 85 times higher than believed. This true infection count was so high that it would drive down the virus’s local fatality rate to 0.12%–0.2% — far closer to the known death rate for the flu.

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(US) Sexual misconduct legal battle raises questions about microbe researcher’s work – Science (Gretchen Vogel | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 22, 2020
 

A researcher famed for his work on the microbiomes of hunter-gatherers has been accused by several women of sexual assault, according to U.S. court documents. Jeff Leach, a resident of Terlingua, Texas, co-founded a major open-source, crowdfunded project on the microbiome and is the co-author of multiple papers on gut microbes, including one in Science. In the publicity resulting from the allegations, other questions have emerged about Leach’s academic qualifications and his behavior in the field.

The sexual assault accusations came to light as a result of a defamation suit Leach filed in September 2019. In July 2019, Katy Schwartz, who worked at the Terlingua tourist lodge that Leach runs, filed a police report alleging that he had sexually assaulted her. Schwartz did not press charges, but asserts in court documents that she wanted her experience documented because she feared Leach could be a danger to others.

In the wake of the lawsuit against Schwartz, three other local women filed affidavits. One alleged that Leach had assaulted her, putting his hand up her shorts “without any warning.” A second alleged that he raped her in a “violent assault” for which “there was no consent.” A third affidavit alleged that Leach sexually assaulted a woman, became violent during an argument, and threatened her with litigation.

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Sidelined by Scandal, a Top Disease Modeler Watches and Worries – UnDark (Jill Neimark | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 13, 2020
 

Fraud charges have upended Eva Lee’s career at a time when her talents are in high demand. Is a reprieve warranted?

ON A BALMY Georgia evening in January, Eva Lee, director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and Health Care at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was finishing up a paper about the global spread of avian flu and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. It was late and her husband was asleep next to her in the bedroom of their bungalow in a quiet Atlanta neighborhood.

This is a great article about a tricky topic.  We are planning a discussion activity sheet, inspired by this story, that will be posted to the subscribers’ area.

On a whim, she says, she had recently added the novel coronavirus to her analysis, and it changed everything.
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The 55-year-old mathematician was already widely regarded for her large-scale computational algorithms and models for tackling outbreaks and natural disasters. In 2003, she began development of a software program called RealOpt, which offers detailed models for strategic planning and operational responses to outbreaks, pandemics, and national disasters based on three-dimensional geospatial information, demographic and economic data, and other variables.
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