Link to the Lancet tweet:
Dr. James M. Todaro’s independent investigation into the study that got HCQ trials halted and the shady company that provided the data for said study.
A Study Out of Thin Air
Misinformation is bad. Misinformation in medicine is worse. Misinformation from a prestigious medical journal is the worst. Herein is a detailed look at the controversial Lancet study that resulted in the World Health Organization ending worldwide clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine in order to focus on patented therapeutics.
In brief, the Lancet study31180-6/fulltext) is a multinational registry analysis assessing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without macrolide therapy (e.g. azithromycin) in treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. The study was very large (perhaps impossibly so, but we will address that later) and included 96,032 patients, of which 14,888 were in treatment groups. The study found that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine with or without macrolide therapy resulted in significantly increased risk of both in-hospital mortality and de-novo ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalization. In summary, the authors concluded that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are actually harmful and increase risk of death when used for in-hospital treatment of COVID-19.
The Lancet study was released on Friday, May 22. After deliberating over a weekend, on Monday, May 25, the World Health Organization hastily announced the cessation of all COVID-19 clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine in 17 different countries. Instead of performing its own due diligence, the WHO immediately relied on an observational study cloaked in the reputation of the nearly 200-year old medical journal The Lancet.
After its publication, a grass-roots investigation by hundreds of physicians and researchers worldwide revealed irreconcilable inconsistencies in the data that The Lancet’s peer-review process overlooked. The study is now found to have inconsistencies with data from national registries of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The authors continue to hide data sources in a black box controlled by an unknown corporation called Surgisphere.
Only one peer-reviewed publication prior to the Lancet study.
Surgisphere appears to be the sole provider of the data for the Lancet study, and boasts itself to be a real-time global research network that “performs cloud-based healthcare data analytics” using machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Based on the Lancet study, it must be a very large, sophisticated network indeed to have partnered with hundreds of hospitals worldwide with the capability of retrieving detailed patient data in real-time.
One would expect a multinational database such as this to be a treasure trove coveted by researchers. Strangely, this is not so. Surgisphere has a razor thin folder of contributions to past publications. Besides the Lancet publication, Surgisphere’s only other peer-reviewed publication is one entitled Cardiovascular, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19 that was published on May 1, 2020 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The Research section of Surgisphere’s website features twenty-three “Case Studies from Around the World” as evidence of their prior work and product features. The vast majority of these “case studies” lack scientific substance and actually consist of short letters, press releases or potential use-cases for its database.
In place of actual research, the website appears primarily promotional and gives the impression of an immature tech company with lofty goals as opposed to a global database with real-time data on millions of patients.
A company with only five employees, most of which joined only two months ago.
According to LinkedIn, Surgisphere has five employees, only one of which has a medical degree—the founder Dr. Sapan Desai. The remaining four employees appear to have little to no science or medical background, but with a plethora of experience in business development and sales & marketing. The team’s personnel consist of a VP of Business Development and Strategy, VP of Sales and Marketing and two freelance writers creating content for Surgisphere.
With the exception of the founder, the entire Surgisphere team joined the corporation only 2-3 months ago. Actually, according to LinkedIn, the VP of Sales & Marketing is still employed by another tech company, W.L. Gore & Associates. Prior to February 2020, Surgisphere appears to have had a single employee, the founder.
A shrouded internet history.
The internet trail behind Surgisphere is peculiar to say the least. Mostly because it isn’t there. The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) has records on more than 439 billion web pages and has long served as a tool to view webpages as they existed in the past. I’ve used the tool hundreds of times and am frequently surprised by the breadth of its database. Even some of the most obscure webpages have historical snapshots available. In the rare circumstances where a historical snapshot is not available, the Wayback Machine’s response is “Wayback Machine doesn’t have that page archived.” A far less common response—one I’ve never seen before—is “Sorry. This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.”
It’s this last response that is delivered when searching surgisphere.com/ in the Wayback Machine.
There are primarily two ways for companies to hide internet histories. First, they can insert special codes into their websites to hide from the Wayback Machine’s automated crawlers. Secondly, companies can request the removal of their historical snapshots, but there’s no guarantee the Internet Archive will honor these requests. Both of these practices are highly unusual and almost exclusively used for obscuring nefarious activities.