Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

On 4 June 2020, after a week of increasing scientific concern and scrutiny, first The Lancet, then a little over an hour later the New England Journal of Medicine, retracted studies that were based on inaccessible data, provided by the Surgisphere corporation. The studies have been extremely damaging to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 clinical trials around the globe. Here is MORU’s statement in response to these events.

The Lancet paper by Mehra et al. (May 22) which claimed that hydroxychloroquine increased mortality in COVID-19 and caused arrhythmias was retracted yesterday.

So was its predecessor in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both studies were based on inaccessible, and therefore unverifiable data, provided by the Surgisphere corporation.

Unfortunately, the Lancet paper, the subsequent media coverage, and the reaction by some regulatory authorities (notably the UK regulator MHRA) and WHO have all been extremely damaging to the chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 clinical trials. Some studies, including our COPCOV prophylaxis study, which aims to see if these drugs at lower doses may prevent illness (which has yet to be answered, and may still be the case even if these drugs don’t work in treatment), have still not been given permission to restart. All the scientific evidence was put before the MHRA shortly after their decision to issue a notice stating they were minded to suspend the trial, and suggesting we stop enrolment, two weeks ago.

Many important questions will need to be answered in the coming weeks and months, but we would like to use this unfortunate opportunity to make two relevant recommendations which we believe are in the public interest.

  1. Medical and scientific journals should not accept papers based on inaccessible data
  2. Regulatory authorities and other agencies responding to such reports should satisfy themselves of the veracity and applicability of published data and the correctness of analyses before they act

Similar stories

Evidence supports WHO recommendation for primaquine combined with ACTs to block Plasmodium falciparum transmission

MORU Bangkok Publication Research

Evidence from a new study, initiated by the Primaquine Roll Out Group and conducted at WWARN, supports the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for use of 0.25mg/kg dose of primaquine (PQ) combined with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) to block Plasmodium falciparum transmission.

Indonesia’s decision to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination to citizens aged 18-59 years old questionable

MORU Bangkok

The Indonesian government policy to exclude the elderly in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program could hinder the vaccine’s impact in lowering mortality rates. COVID-19 mortality rates in Indonesia, the highest in Southeast Asia, are dominated by those in the 60 years and above age bracket. In this article published in The Conversation, Kartika Saraswati and fellow DPhil students elaborate how, by prioritising vaccination for elderly, Indonesia may optimally reduce the hospital burden and COVID-19 deaths amidst a limited vaccine supply during the first vaccination phase.

Check-list recommended to improve reporting of microscopy methods and results in malaria studies

MORU Bangkok Publication Research

A study to explore the variations of how microscopy methods are reported in published malaria studies has recommended standardised procedures should be implemented for methodological consistency and comparability of clinical trial outcomes.

Susie Dunachie awarded flagship NIHR career development award

Awards & Appointments MORU Bangkok

Susie Dunachie joins a prestigious group of leading health researchers in the latest cohort of NIHR Global Research Professors. These awards fund research leaders of the future to promote effective translation of research and to strengthen health, public health and care research leadership at the highest academic levels. Research conducted by Global Research Professors directly benefits people in LMICs. A Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, Susie works on the development of a vaccine to prevent death from melioidosis in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus in LMICs, and supports vaccine research in Thailand. Congratulations!

The COVID-19 vaccine: do we know enough to end the pandemic?

MORU Bangkok Research

Blog by Rima Shretta. Preliminary efficacy results from three vaccine candidates currently in Phase 3 trials have shown an efficacy of more than 90% against the development of symptomatic COVID-19. While these results are promising, all vaccines are in relatively early stages of testing. A comprehensive and transparent roadmap is urgently needed, to determine how limited doses of the first vaccines to be licensed will be distributed, together with which groups will initially be prioritized.

New study on the risk of Plasmodium vivax parasitaemia after Plasmodium falciparum malaria

MORU Bangkok Publication Research

A new study quantifying the high risk of Plasmodium vivax parasitaemia after treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria aims to identify populations in which a policy of universal radical cure, combining artemisinin-based combination therapy with a hypnozoitocidal antimalarial drug, would be most beneficial.