“The majority of patient data in Turkish hospitals are manually entered on paper, and Turkey does not have an electronic nationwide digital database other than for blood tests and prescriptions,” the critics added.
“Moreover, it is highly unlikely that such clinical data would have been shared with a U.S. company without acknowledgment.”
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Many of the scientists who first raised concerns about the database are involved in clinical trials of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and they were forced to pause the studies for safety reviews after The Lancet study was published.
James Watson, a senior scientist with MORU Tropical Health Network, said his unit had to immediately suspend work on a large randomized clinical trial to see if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine can protect health care workers exposed on the job to the coronavirus from infection.
“I saw very quickly this paper didn’t hold up to much scrutiny at all,” he said. “We started wondering, ‘Who’s been collecting this data, and where did it come from?’ We were quite surprised to see a global study with only four authors listed and no acknowledgment of anyone else.”
The scientists then turned their attention to the paper about cardiovascular disease and blood pressure drugs that had been published in the N.E.J.M. on May 1. “We immediately thought, ‘If there’s something wrong with the database, it’s going to affect both publications,’” he said.
David Glidden, a professor of biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco, who reads all new publications about Covid-19 antiviral therapies as a member of a National Institutes of Health clinical guidelines panel, said he was immediately struck by the vagueness of the descriptions in both papers.
There is a frenzy to publish research, he added: “Medical journals often feel pressure to be relevant and to be carrying the story that’s going to be talked about, and I think they need to be responsive to the urgency of this pandemic but also to maintain their standards, which require caution.”