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China is tightening its grip on coronavirus research – Nature (Andrew Silver & David Cyranoski | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on July 5, 2020
 

Some scientists welcome government vetting because it could stop poor-quality COVID-19 papers being published – others fear it is an attempt to control information.

China’s government has started asserting tight control over COVID-19 research findings. Over the past two months, it appears to have quietly introduced policies that require scientists to get approval to publish — or publicize — their results, according to documents seen by Nature and some researchers.

This fits with media reports that at least two Chinese universities have posted notices online stating that research on the virus’s origins needs to be approved by the university’s academic committee and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) or Ministry of Education (MOE) before being submitted for publication.

Scientists in China say the changes are probably a response to poor-quality studies on the virus, which have been posted online and reported widely — and several welcome them. But some academics have suggested that the policies are part of China’s attempt to control information about the start of the outbreak.

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China clamping down on coronavirus research, deleted pages suggest – The Conversation (Stephanie Kirchgaessner, et al | April 2020.)0

Posted by Admin in on July 4, 2020
 

Move is likely to be part of attempt to control the narrative surrounding the pandemic

China is cracking down on publication of academic research about the origins of the novel coronavirus, in what is likely to be part of a wider attempt to control the narrative surrounding the pandemic, documents published online by Chinese universities appear to show.

Two websites for leading Chinese universities appear to have recently published and then removed pages that reference a new policy requiring academic papers dealing with Covid-19 to undergo extra vetting before they are submitted for publication.

Research on the origins of the virus is particularly sensitive and subject to checks by government officials, the notices posted on the websites of Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) said. Both the deleted pages were accessed from online caches.

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Waste in covid-19 research (Editorial – Paul P Glasziou, et al | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 26, 2020
 

A deluge of poor quality research is sabotaging an effective evidence based response

The medical research world is responding to the covid-19 pandemic at breathtaking speed. There has been a maelstrom of global research, with mixed consequences. Positives include the greater provision of open access to covid-19 studies, some increased collaboration, expedited governance and ethics approvals of new clinical studies, and wider use of preprints. But many problems have become evident. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that up to 85% of research was wasted because of poor questions, poor study design, inefficiency of regulation and conduct, and non or poor reporting of results.1 Many of these problems are amplified in covid-19 research, with time pressures and inadequate research infrastructure contributing.

A fabulous editorial piece by Paul P Glasziou, et al about all the …noise/junk… being rushed to publication about COVID-19.  An important read.   We have included links to 21 related reads.  Who is hurt by this questionable behaviour?  Us as we wait tensely for a cure.

Trials
An extraordinary number of covid-19 trials have been registered since the pandemic started. The National Library of Medicine registry ClinicalTrials.gov lists 1087 covid-19 studies, and though some will provide useful information, many are too small and poorly designed to be helpful, merely adding to the covid-19 noise. Of the 145 registered trials of hydroxychloroquine, for example, 32 have a planned sample size of ≤100, 10 have no control group, and 12 are comparative but non-randomised. Outcome measures vary widely, and only 50 seem to be multicentre. Strikingly, only one provides a protocol, and even limited registry details reveal unjustified outcome switching.2
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The imbalance in trial topics is worrying, in particular the paucity of trials on non-drug interventions. Despite non-drug interventions being the mainstay of current mitigation,3 we could find just two trials of masks on ClinicalTrials.gov and none examining social distancing, quarantine effect or adherence, hand hygiene, or other non-drug interventions. Covid-19 research funding mirrors this woeful imbalance. A search of Covid-19 Research Project Tracker, a live database of funded covid-19 projects, found almost no primary research of the effects of non-drug interventions on transmissibility, compared with hundreds of drug intervention projects worth at least $74m (£60m; €67m).

Glasziou, P. P., Sanders, S. & Hoffmann, T. (2020) Waste in covid-19 research. BMJ 2020; 369 :m1847
Publisher: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1847

Strong caveats are lacking as news stories trumpet preliminary COVID-19 research – HealthNewsReview (Mary Chris Jaklevic | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 12, 2020
 

For years medical researchers held off while scientists in other fields embraced online platforms for posting rough drafts of manuscripts, known as preprints.

The hurried pace and publication of COVID-19 research means mistakes are going to be made.  This vexed situation, where data is being rushed out to meet a need-but there is not time to verify using standard means.  Over the last 24h we have posted some great pieces offering an important warning.

Those websites accelerate basic science by allowing researchers to disseminate findings and get feedback on their work before submitting them to a traditional journal.
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Some argue that such rapid data sharing is ideally suited for infectious disease outbreaks like the one we’re experiencing now.

However, the prospect of public access to unvetted work sparked worry about potential health scares and patients demanding unproven treatments. A BMJ editorial put it this way: “Can the need for speed be balanced with suitable safeguards to protect the public?”
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We’re now finding out.
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A medical preprint server called medRxiv (pronounced “med-archive”) went live last summer. It’s a partnership of BMJ (publisher of The BMJ), Yale University, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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