The COVID-19 Pandemic: Did a Scam Company Provide Faulty Data that Lead to a Change in Coronavirus Policies?; Fauci Says US Should Have 100 Million Doses of Vaccine by End of Year; and More

World News:

As of Wednesday, June 3, the world now has over 6.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the novel coronavirus causing almost 385,000 deaths.

Outside of the US, the countries with the most confirmed infections are:

  • Brazil: 560,737 confirmed cases; 31,417 deaths.
  • Russia: 432,277 confirmed cases; 5,215 deaths.
  • Spain: 287,012 confirmed cases; 27,127 deaths.
  • UK: 279,856 confirmed cases; 39,728 deaths.
  • Italy: 233,836 confirmed cases; 33,601 deaths.

Mystery Company Under Fire for Providing Faulty COVID-19 Data

A small US-based healthcare analytics company, Surgisphere, is under heavy scrutiny from the scientific community, who are calling into the question the integrity of key studies that were published in The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). According to an investigative report from The Guardian, data Surgisphere claims to have procured from over a thousand hospitals worldwide, and which formed the basis for of scientific articles have spurred change in COVID-19 policies and treatments, appear questionable. Both studies were co-authored by the firm’s chief executive, Sapan Desa.

Last month, The Lancet published a peer-reviewed study which found that the antimalarial drug hydroxycholoquine, highly touted by President Donald Trump, was linked with a higher rate of heart problems and death in COVID-19 patients. The study claimed to have analyzed data from almost 15,000 patients with COVID-19, admitted to 1,200 hospitals around the world, who were administered either hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with antibiotics. The study’s findings prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to pause its hydroxycholorquine arm of its global clinical trials.

However, within days of publication, a Guardian investigation revealed troubling errors in Australian data. According to the Guardian’s report, “The study said researchers gained access to data through Surgisphere from five hospitals, recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of 21 April. But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April.”

Although Desai attributed the data error to one Asian hospital accidentally being included in Australian data, a subsequent inquiry in the matter revealed that seven hospitals in Australia, “whose cooperation would have been essential for the Australian patient numbers in the database to be reached,” denied any role in such a database and had no knowledge of Surgisphere.

The Guardian’s investigation also found, among other things:

  • A search of publicly available material suggests several of Surgisphere’s employees have little or no data or scientific background. An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess.
  • The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday.
  • Until Monday, the get in touch” link on Surgisphere’s homepage redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, raising questions about how hospitals could easily contact the company to join its database.

These findings have sparked significant concerns over the validity of Surhisphere, with one data scientist telling The Guardian that the Surgisphere database was “almost certainly a scam.”

Scientists have now signed open letters to both The Lancet and the NJEM voicing their concerns over this dubious company and data. “Recently, substantive concerns have been raised about the quality of the information in that database,” writes NEJM editor-in-chief Eric Rubin in the expression of concern. “We have asked the authors to provide evidence that the data are reliable. In the interim and for the benefit of our readers, we are publishing this Expression of Concern about the reliability of their conclusions.”

In response, The Lancet editors wrote: “Although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.”

National News

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The US death toll from COVID-19 now stands at over 108,000, and there now close to 1.9 million infections. New York, the nation’s leader in confirmed cases and deaths, reports 382,824 infections and 30,134 deaths, while neighboring New Jersey reports 163,530 confirmed cases and 11,880 deaths.

Outside of NY and NJ, the states with most confirmed COVID-19 cases are:

  • Illinois: 122,848 confirmed cases; 5,525 deaths.
  • California: 117,962 confirmed cases; 4,360 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 101,163 confirmed cases; 7,085 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 77,788 confirmed cases; 5,756 deaths.
  • Texas: 67,973 confirmed cases; 1,735 deaths.

100 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine by 2021, Says Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci believes the United States will have 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020. “Then, by the beginning of 2021, we hope to have a couple hundred million doses,” Fauci said during a live Q&A with the Journal of the American Medical Association. As previously reported, there are currently over 130 coronavirus vaccines in development worldwide.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Over 107,000 US Fatalities; NY Reporting a Low in Cases

There are now 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 107,000 fatalities. On a positive note, New York, the nation’s leader in reported cases and deaths, is seeing an “an all time low” in new cases, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York reported 58 deaths yesterday, which is slightly up from a total of 54 on Monday. New York’s official tally stands at 380,825 confirmed cases and 29,988 deaths. Neighboring New Jersey has also seen a bend in its curve, and reports 51 new deaths, according to Governor Phil Murphy’s social media account. NJ’s total tally is 162,642 confirmed cases and 11,770 deaths.

Outside of NY and NJ, the US states with the most confirmed cases are:

  • Illinois: 121,234 confirmed cases; 5,412 deaths.
  • California: 115,192 confirmed cases; 4,287 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 100,805 confirmed cases; 7,035 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 76,739 confirmed cases; 5,670 deaths.
  • Texas: 66,076 confirmed cases; 1,700 deaths.

US Surgeon General Expects Clusters Amid Protests

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue in America, the US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is concerned that COVID-19 may spread among demonstrators. “I remain concerned about the public health consequences both of individual and institutional racism [and] people out protesting in a way that is harmful to themselves and to their communities,” Adams said in an interview with Politico. “Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” Adams said.

Monday, June 1, 2020

US Toll Over 106,000

As of June 1, COVID-19 is responsible for the deaths over 106,000 people in the US, and there are close to 2 million confirmed cases (currently 1,843,668). US-leading New York now reports 379,902 confirmed cases and 29,918 deaths. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said today that at least 54 people from coronavirus yesterday, noting that “number is dramatically different than what we were looking at for many many weeks.”

Behind NY, the US states with the most confirmed infections are:

  • New Jersey: 161,764 confirmed cases; 11,711 deaths.
  • Illinois: 120,260 confirmed cases; 5,390 deaths.
  • California: 112,584 confirmed cases; 4,240 deaths.
  • Massachusetts: 96,965 confirmed cases; 6,846 deaths.
  • Pennsylvania: 76,271 confirmed cases; 5,586 deaths.

Pharmaceutical Company Begins Human Trials of COVID-19 Antibody Therapy

Eli Lilly and Company has started the first human trial of an antibody therapy to treat COVID-19. The company said that if successful, the therapy could become available by fall. “We’ve already started the manufacturing process to really scale this up without even knowing yet if it works for patients, because if it does work, we don’t want to waste a single day, we want to have as much medicine as possible available to help as many people quickly,” Dr. Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly’s senior vice president and chief scientific officer, said in a CNN interview.

Former FDA Commissioner Warns Mass Protests Could Spike Infections

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police has sparked an uproar in the US, with thousands of protesters assembling in many US cities over the past six days. However, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb is warning that the protests could cause a spike in COVID-19 infections. “There’s going to be a lot of issues coming out of what’s happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

103-year-old Woman Beats COVID-19

In uplifting news, a 103-year-old Massachusetts woman defeated COVID-19, and celebrated her victory with a cold beer, her family told CNN. “She’s always been a feisty woman,” according to her granddaughter.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: May Round-up

The COVID-19 Pandemic: April Round-up

Here’s a full wrap-up of COVID-19 happenings from the month of March.

The COVID-19 Pandemic March Round-up: Coronavirus Declared a Pandemic; People, Businesses and Economies Devastated

 

DocWire News will provide breaking updates on the COVID-19 pandemic as they become available.