Microbiologist Didier Raoult Slams 'Fraudulent' VA Hydroxychloroquine Study As 'Fake News'

Chris Menahan
Apr. 23, 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs' study on the drug hydroxychloroquine was "closer to scientific fraud than reasonable analysis," according to famed French microbiologist Didier Raoult.

Raoult said some 30 percent of patients in the supposed "control group" were given the antibiotic azithromycin, which is being used to treat the coronavirus, while "nearly dying patients with lymphopenia were treated with hydroxychloroquine."

He released this analysis in response:
In the current period, it seems that passion dominates rigorous and balanced scientific analysis and may lead to scientific misconduct. The article by Magagnoli et al. (Magagnoli, 2020) is an absolutely spectacular example of this. Indeed, in this work, it is concluded, in the end, that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) would double the mortality in patients with COVID with a fatality rate of 28% (versus 11% in the NoHCQ group), which is extraordinarily hard to believe. The analysis of the data shows two major biases, which show a welling to be convinced before starting the work:

The first is that lymphopenia is twice as common in the HCQ groups (25% in the HCQ, 31% in the HCQ+AZ group versus 14% in the no HCQ group, p =.02) and there is an absolute correlation between lymphopenia (<0.5G/L) and fatality rate, which is well known (Tan, 2020) and confirmed here : 28% deaths, 22% and 11% in the HCQ, HCQ+AZ and No HCQ group, respectively. Lymphopenia is the most obvious criterion of patient severity (in our cohort, lymphocytes in dead individuals (n=22, mean ± standard deviation, 0.94 ± 0.45), versus in the living (n=2405, 1.79 ± 0.84, p < .0001)). As the authors acknowledge, the severity of the patients in the different groups was very different, and their analysis can only make sense if there is a selection of patients with the same degree of severity, i.e. the same percentage of lymphopenia.

The second major bias is that in an attempt to provide meaningful data, by eliminating the initial severity at the time of treatment, two tables are shown: one table where drugs are prescribed before intubation, and which shows no significant difference in the 3 different groups (9/90 (10%) in the HCQ group, 11/101 (10. 9%) HCQ+AZ, and 15/177 (8.5%) in the group without HCQ, chi-square = 0.47, ddl = 2, p = 0.79), and one table, where it is not clear when the drugs were prescribed, where there are significant differences. These differences are most likely related to the fact that the patients had been intubated for some before receiving hydroxychloroquine in desperation. It is notable that this is unreasonable at the time of the cytokine storm, as it is unlikely that hydrochloroquine alone would be able to control patients at this stage of the disease.

Moreover, incomprehensibly, the “untreated” group actually received azithromycin in 30% of cases, without this group being analyzed in any distinct way. Azithromycin is also a proposed treatment for COVID (Gautret, 2020) with in vitro efficacy (Andreani, 2020), and to mix it with patients who are supposedly untreated is something that is closer to scientific fraud than reasonable analysis.

Altogether these 3 voluntary biases are all pushing to the idea of dangerosity of hydroxychloroquine safest drug as reported on nearly 1 million people (Lane, 2020).

All in all, this is a work that shows that, in this period, it is possible to propose things that do not stand up to any methodological analysis to try to demonstrate that one is right.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie also threw cold water on the media's hysterical reports on Wednesday by noting the VA study was "an observational study" and "not a clinical study."

"It was done on a small number of veterans, sadly those of whom were in the last stages of life," Wilkie said.

"We know the drug has been working on middle-age and younger veterans," he said, "and the governor of New York was just in the Oval Office yesterday asking for more of the drug to be delivered to the city of New York."

Fox News host Laura Ingraham last night highlighted the problems with the VA study and noted how the media ran with it without any skepticism seemingly just to score political points:

As I reported last week, the media similarly showed little skepticism when they hyped early clinical trial results of Gilead's unproven and expensive drug Remdesivir (which Gilead later said were statistically meaningless). It was later revealed insider trading may have been at play as a large bet was made on Gilead's stock shortly before the news touting Remdesivir was released.

Whether hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating SARS-CoV-2 is still up for debate but the depravity and dishonesty of our media has been proven without question.

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