Against my better judgment, Biscuit returns this week to celebrate the 100th post of this blog and address the worst ideas in COVID-19 medicine and science. In a week where science and medicine were overshadowed by remarkable social and political events, there was still no lack of bad medical ideas, poor science. and out and out fraud to choose from. We should acknowledge these remarkable misdeeds!
1) Picking vaccine winners and losers. Project “warp speed” chooses five different vaccines to support while abandoning several vaccines that had previously received large amounts of federal funding. If the vaccines had good enough ideas to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, why shouldn’t they at least be tried in humans before they are abandoned?
2) Make believe research organizations. A private practice surgeon makes up a “big data” research organization with three employees and a science fiction author as its chief scientist. He gets publications in some of the most respected medical journals in the world. When the data is questioned, he refuses to provide access and the papers are withdrawn after causing significant changes in COVID-19 medical care. What the hell is a “Surgisphere” anyway?
3) Disbanding the COVID-19 taskforce. Not surprisingly, it is hard to tell whether this is a good or bad idea! First meetings become less frequent, then Brent Giroir “stands down” and goes back to his old job. If a taskforce falls in the woods without a daily press conference will anyone notice?
4) People still injuring themselves from misusing and ingesting disinfectants. An online survey CDC in May showed 39% had misused cleaning products, and 25% reported “an adverse health effect that they believed was a result” of the products. These included: 19% said they had used bleach on food; 18% said they had applied household cleaners to their skin; 10% said they had misted themselves with disinfectant sprays; 6% had inhaled vapors from cleaning products; and 4% had drunk or gargled diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, or other disinfectants. Please, try reading the bottle first!
5) WHO today finally suggests wearing masks in coronavirus “transmission” areas. What took them so long? Haven’t they been to Costco lately?
6) CDC failures. Aged information technology, inward culture, and an absent leader all led to a CDC failure when the agency was needed the most.
7) False scientific publications. It is bad enough that non-reviewed science gets passed around. Now articles in prestigious journal are based on fabricated data. Patients are treated with drugs that may harm them because of these papers. The authors of these publications who apparently did not even look at the actual data have to explain themselves, as do the Journal editors.
8) Worst idea of the week: not protecting the elderly from COVID-19. Europe has had 50% of its COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, Canada may have over 80%. We don’t have to rehash the NYC nursing home fiasco. Didn’t someone get the message that these people were at risk?!