A Second Major COVID Study by Surgisphere Analytics Company Is Retracted

First, the highly respected Lancet medical journal retracted a major study about hydroxychloroquine. And now, the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine has yanked another study, this one concerning COVID-19 and blood pressure drugs.

Both studies relied on data supplied by a U.S. analytics company called Surgisphere.

“A Guardian investigation can reveal the US-based company Surgisphere, whose handful of employees appear to include a science fiction writer and an adult-content model, has provided data for multiple studies on Covid-19 co-authored by its chief executive, but has so far failed to adequately explain its data or methodology,” The Guardian reported.

A peer-reviewed Lancet study claimed that Surgisphere culled data from nearly 15,000 COVID-19 patients from 1,200 hospitals around the world. There is no evidence that it collected any data from anyone.

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The study by Lancet, a British company, said the anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, both of which have been touted by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, were not only ineffective but possible deadly. Lancet said in the May 22 study that patients who used those drugs were more likely to show an irregular heart rhythm—a known side effect thought to be rare—and were more likely to die in the hospital.

Within days, some large trials of the drugs were halted. But after the Lancet retraction, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would resume trials of the drugs.

As for the study in the New England Journal of Medicine, published on 1 May, said that taking certain blood pressure drugs, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, didn’t appear to increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients, as some researchers had suggested. But after questions about Surgisphere, the journal has retracted the study.

“It is now clear to me that in my hope to contribute to this research during a time of great need, I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” said Harvard’s Mandeep Mehra, who was the lead author of both studies. “For that, and for all the disruptions—both directly and indirectly — I am truly sorry.”

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