A study published in the Lancet on Friday which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 has fallen under scrutiny over a data discrepancy, The Guardian reports.
According to the study – a data analysis of nearly 15,000 patients who received HCQ alone or with antibiotics (and conspicuously without zinc – the key ingredient), COVID-19 patients who received HCQ reportedly died at higher rates and experienced more cardiac complications than those without. As a result, the WHO halted all its trials involving the drug, which has been promoted by dozens of prominent doctors, and recently ordered by Indian health officials for use as a prophylactic against the disease.
The study, led by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston, examined patients in hospitals around the world, including in Australia. It said researchers gained access to data from five hospitals recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of 21 April.
But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April. The data relied upon by researchers to draw their conclusions in the Lancet is not readily available in Australian clinical databases, leading many to ask where it came from. –The Guardian
In short, the accuracy of the Brigham and Women’s study has been called into question. Meanwhile, Australia’s federal health department confirmed to Guardian Australia that data collected on COVID-19 in the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System was not the source for informing the trial. The news outlet also contacted the New South Wales and Victoria health departments, both of which said they did not provide researchers with data for the study.
“We have asked the authors for clarifications, we know that they are investigating urgently, and we await their reply,” the Lancet told Guardian Australia. Meanwhile, lead author Dr. Mandeep Mehra said he had contacted Surgisphere – which provided the data, to reconcile the discrepancies with “the utmost urgency,” according to the report.