“The efficacy of a drug being promoted by rightwing figures worldwide for treating Covid-19 is in serious doubt,” reports the Guardian, “after a major study suggesting the treatment is effective against the virus was withdrawn due to ‘ethical concerns’.”
The preprint study on the efficacy and safety of ivermectin — a drug used against parasites such as worms and headlice — in treating Covid-19, led by Dr Ahmed Elgazzar from Benha University in Egypt, was published on the Research Square website in November. It claimed to be a randomised control trial, a type of study crucial in medicine because it is considered to provide the most reliable evidence on the effectiveness of interventions due to the minimal risk of confounding factors influencing the results…
A medical student in London, Jack Lawrence, was among the first to identify serious concerns about the paper, leading to the retraction… He found the introduction section of the paper appeared to have been almost entirely plagiarised. It appeared that the authors had run entire paragraphs from press releases and websites about ivermectin and Covid-19 through a thesaurus to change key words. “Humorously, this led to them changing ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ to ‘extreme intense respiratory syndrome’ on one occasion,” Lawrence said.
The data also looked suspicious to Lawrence… “In their paper, the authors claim that four out of 100 patients died in their standard treatment group for mild and moderate Covid-19,” Lawrence said. “According to the original data, the number was 0, the same as the ivermectin treatment group. In their ivermectin treatment group for severe Covid-19, the authors claim two patients died, but the number in their raw data is four…” Lawrence contacted an Australian chronic disease epidemiologist from the University of Wollongong, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, and a data analyst affiliated with Linnaeus University in Sweden who reviews scientific papers for errors, Nick Brown, for help analysing the data and study results more thoroughly… “The main error is that at least 79 of the patient records are obvious clones of other records,” Brown told the Guardian. “It’s certainly the hardest to explain away as innocent error, especially since the clones aren’t even pure copies. There are signs that they have tried to change one or two fields to make them look more natural…”
Meyerowitz-Katz told the Guardian that “this is one of the biggest ivermectin studies out there”, and it appeared to him the data was “just totally faked”.
Meta-analyses relying on the “just totally faked” data were then published in Oxford Academic’s Open Forum Infectious Diseases and in the American Journal of Therapeutics.
Meanwhile, the Guardian also notes a new (and peer-reviewed) paper that was just published last month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Its finding? Iermectin is “not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients”.