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Karen Bogs: Fast and wrong on the hunt for COVID-19

Karen Bogs: Fast and wrong on the hunt for COVID-19

Jose Mir is a paid consultant to the tobacco industry. Its co-author Konstantinos Pulas works for an organization that also receives money from the tobacco industry.

That income didn’t tell Mir and Pollas when they submitted a study to the European Respiratory Journal.

The study, published in July last year, claimed that active smokers have a 23 percent lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than non-smokers.

right Now The magazine withdrew the entire study.

Researchers have been asked from the start – which is routine in scientific publications – to mention any links that could affect their credibility. But he thus failed to tell the magazine about his tobacco money.

It seems paradoxical Smoking, known to damage the airways, protects against a disease that largely manifests itself in the lungs. And the irony is usually good news. Consequently, the study has been widely cited, both in traditional and social media.

Assemble in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, Who identified possible sources of error and strongly suspected that cigarettes could protect against Coronavirus, was not at all easy to confirm in the news feed.

Retraction Watch is an organization that attempts to counter incorrect research and report withdrawn studies. They have met Huge list of withdrawn studies dealing with Covid-19, More than a hundred.

One might think that reading is amusing and bloody.

If the question was not that serious.

Too many incomplete studies – often only initially published online in so-called preprint editions – have proliferated and influenced public debate before they had time to withdraw them.

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For example, the study Which claims that the 5G mobile phone network produces covid-19, because “skin cells act as antennas” and capture viruses, “that the waves travel to other cells” and “thus play the main role in the production of the Corona virus in biological cells.”

Some studies have provided simple and easy solutions that seem too good to be true. And they might not be right either, it turns out when they’re drawn.

like this Traditional Chinese medicine shaped like jade medals It would protect against Covid disease, as the geomagnetic fields weaken.

Or that the herbal remedy will work.

Or homeopathy, as one German study claimed.

Or acoustic vibrations from Indian Ayurvedic musical instruments thali and ganti.

Or studies on the protection of the mouth for the public which have become a symbolic issue for many.

On A great but preliminary investigation Which compared different regions in the United States and played a major role in the debate last fall, was withdrawn a few months later. Mandatory verbal protection for the general public was reported to give a 7 per cent lower hospitalization rate, but the numbers did not hold up in the long term.

Other studies point to other directions The latest compilation of the European Agency for Infectious Diseases Control (ECDC) The scientific basis for oral protection is uncertain and the effect is minimal or moderate.

So we have studies Which claims that the coronavirus can be spread through fresh or frozen foods. Or who revolves around that The virus can spread on buses At five-meter distances – twice the distance other research indicates.

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It is too early to say whether the research on epidemiology is of less quality than other research. But we really can now Note that it is running fast. Several studies are published in primary form on preprinting. There they are often caught by the debaters spreading the message.

But, as the example of cigarettes and the tobacco industry shows, it is also important to keep track of when materials were withdrawn. And reading groups, even if results are less surprising and less promising.

Read more: The crisis is not an excuse for low demand for research