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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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(UK) Questionable activities of UK company Celixir, by Patricia Murray – ForBetterScience (Leonid Schneider | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 15, 2020
 

Patricia Murray uncovers the business secrets of the Nobelist Martin Evans and his partner Ajan Reginald. It seems the magic iMP cells used to treat patients in Greece were drawn from the blood of patients in Swansea, for the purpose of a secret PhD thesis. There is no serious science behind it, only serious investor money and a fraudulent patent.

Troubling story from the UK highlights that academic superstars can sometimes are not above seriously questionable activity.  An institution’s governance arrangements must never exclude someone just because of what benefits their reputation/performance confers to the host institution.

This guest post by Dr Patricia Murray, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at the University of Liverpool, UK, follows a previous article on my site regarding the business activities of the regenerative medicine company Celixir, owned by Sir Martin Evans, winner of the Nobel Prize of 2007 and former President of the University of Cardiff, and the struck-off dentist Ajan Reginald. Much of the contents in that story must be credited to Dr Murray, who is also an activist for medical ethics and research integrity in regenerative medicine and played a key role in uncovering the extent of the trachea transplant scandal in the UK in the aftermath of the Paolo Macchiarini affair, which recently made main news in the UK (here and here).
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Murray’s activities led to a parliamentary investigations into the role of UCL and their professors, primarily Martin Birchall, in two deadly trachea transplants (here and here) and into the attitude of the journal The Lancet. Three clinical trials were permanently suspended or terminated following Murray’s advocacy for patient safety, it is likely that related trials at UCL and elsewhere in UK were also postponed indefinitely because of that. There were retaliations: UCL’s business partners, the trachea transplant company Videregen, deployed lawyers against Murray and her colleague (read here and here), without any success though.
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In my view, Professor Murray is a true hero and the bravest scientist I ever had the honour to know. And yet she doesn’t even have a Twitter account.
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Kinder publishing practices should become the new normal – Times Higher Education (Phil Emmerson | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 12, 2020
 

Varying personal circumstances highlight the need for accommodations that outlive the coronavirus, says Phil Emmerson

The impact on teaching of the forced closure of university campuses around the world has understandably dominated institutional and
press attention, with lecturers scrambling to learn new technologies and pedagogies so that disruption is minimised.

But the implications of the coronavirus-related shutdown on research is also huge. Limited or no access to labs and research participants
combined with the need to share home workspaces with other family members present considerable challenges to productivity.

Moreover, many academics are overwhelmed by worry. Some have family members who are unwell, or are unwell themselves. Some have had to take over the primary care of loved ones. Many are also having to home-school their children. These caring roles mostly fall to women.

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