Indian scientists including CSIR chief questions the study that prompted WHO to stop HCQ trial | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Indian scientists, including director general of the country’s premier research body CSIR, on Friday questioned the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its decision to stop use of malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) trial on Covid-19 patients, saying its move based on findings of a Lancet study “appears to be a knee-jerk reaction”.
In a joint letter sent to the WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, the CSIR’s chief Shekhar C Mande and two other scientists said that the Lancet study has several limitations as the authors have themselves acknowledged it in the article.
“Thus, using this study to halt the use of HCQ or chloroquine in the ongoing controlled trial seems questionable,” said the letter.
The two scientists who joined Mande in their remarks on the Lancet study are
Anurag Agarwal of the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Rajeeva Karandikar of the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI). A copy of this letter was also sent to Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet. It was the Lancet study that prompted the WHO to stop Covid-19 trials.
The Indian scientists in their letter said, “The (Lancet) article represents an observational study. Unlike randomized blinded trials where subjects are chosen randomly to receive a treatment, to minimize differences between treatment groups, in this study there has been no such prior design.”
They in their letter pointed out that the methodology of the paper mentions that all patients who were hospitalized between Dec 20, 2019 and Apr 14, 2020 with PCR confirmed Covid-19 infection were analyzed.
“Whereas, the first reported symptoms of the diseases as cluster of cases of pneumonia were recorded on the December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China, it was only on the January 5, 2020 that WHO published the first disease outbreak news on the new virus. Moreover, it was only on the January 20, 2020 that the first case was recorded in the USA (N Engl J Med 2020; 382:929-936). Thus, scanning the records of hospitalization from the December 20, 2019 appears to be unjustified,” they said in the letter.
They further said, “While it is not expected to make any difference since PCR confirmation would not be there for non-Covid cases, it is worth noting that the number of patients and the number of deaths in this study are inconsistent with public health records of the same, often exceeding them despite surveying only a subset of healthcare organizations. This raises concern for errors in data extraction from electronic records. Even if the data were correctly extracted, severe flaws remain.”
Noting those inconsistencies, the Indian scientists said, “While this does support the lack of high effectiveness of HCQ/CQ therapy, the decision of WHO to
temporarily suspend quality HCQ trials based on findings of this study appears to be a knee-jerk reaction.”



Source Times of India

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