Early studies of Covid-19 therapeutics turned out to be fabricated or suspicious. That’s a huge problem for science.
The scientific integrity site Retraction Watch has been a bulwark of sound science since its founding in 2010. Its self-proclaimed mission is to act as a “window into the scientific process” by shining a light on academic research that has been retracted.
The inclusion of dodgy/junk/fabricated work in the body of scientific knowledge about COVID-19 have three serious implications: 1, It can pollute and distort the body of scientific knowledge. 2. It can perpetuate loopy and dubious claims by giving them apparent academic credibility (see hydrochlorothiazide and ivermectin for examples). 3. It can be a distraction for patients and clinicians in terms of treatments that are efficacious and safe. We have included links to four related items.
The problem is especially acute when it comes to studies looking into treatments for Covid-19. Early papers claiming to find stunning results for drug regimens like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine earned tremendous attention and influence, only to later be retracted, often because substantial evidence suggested that the studies never actually happened or at least never happened as described.
One ivermectin study included in an influential meta-analysis that found great results for the drug turned out to be based on a data file where the same 11 patients were copied and pasted repeatedly to produce a more robust sample size of a few hundred. When BuzzFeed News followed up on another ivermectin study with huge results, a hospital where the research had reportedly been conducted said it had no record of such a study happening there.