June 10, 2023


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More than 300 articles about COVID-19 have been pulled

Three years after the spread of the Corona pandemic, announce Recently, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to global health.

In the same week the magazine announced Frontiers in Microbiology They retracted an article titled “A Microbiome-Based Hypothesis About the Mechanism of Ivermectin in COVID-19: Ivermectin Feeds Bifidobacteria to Boost Immunity.”

“After publication, concerns about scientific validity were raised,” the journal wrote, adding that the review concluded that the article “does not meet standards for editorial and scientific integrity.”

It’s not the first article to be pulled.

The number of retracted research articles on covid-19 is now over 300. This is shown by the overview Rollback controlwhich lists a total of 325 covid articles that have been pulled.

Acronyms about ethics

During the pandemic, some have compromised on the ethical standards that apply to research and either tried to get more approved publications, or taken shortcuts on ethics.

This is what Gunnveig Grødeland senior researcher at the Institute of Immunology at the University of Oslo (UiO) told Khrono after seeing the list of articles that were retracted, and the reasons for some of them.

There are various reasons for withdrawing articles. A vaccine researcher at UiO explains that some are from preprint publications.

– It may be because they have updated it or want to publish it in a different format when it is already published. She says it’s completely normal.

But this only applies to some articles.

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Ran the same data to different journals

Grødeland points out that some were withdrawn because the researchers lacked informed consent while conducting the studies.

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“It will of course be withdrawn when it is found that ethical guidelines have been breached,” she says.

Others were withdrawn, the researcher notes, after editors discovered the data had been used multiple times, in different articles.

– It’s not legal either, it’s simply duplicates, Grødeland says and adds that she witnessed this herself when peering into some articles during the pandemic.

In fact, some laboratories seem to be running the same data, with slight modifications, on different journals. They have tried to post the same data multiple times.

The rules say you only have to publish the data once, and that’s part of the research contract, Grødeland says and adds:

– There may be attempts by these search groups to get more posts in their post lists, but it is a wrong way to do it.

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wrong impression in the media

Grødeland also references cases with case studies on different traditional medicine strategies.

– In the media, a false impression was created that these strategies were in any way recommended as an actual treatment, or for the prevention of coronavirus, something that neither the authors of the various articles nor their institutions can attest to. So, the articles were pulled for that reason as well, she said.

The vaccine researcher also points out studies that did not include a large enough number of study subjects, and makes conclusions about the effect of drugs that the researchers can no longer validate when more subjects are included. Grødeland believes it was right to publish these at the start of the epidemic, when there was still so little information out there.

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“But it’s only right to be corrected when you get more information later,” she says.

According to Grødeland, other studies lack ethical approvals for the work.

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high propaganda

So more than 300 Covid articles were pulled. Grødeland says it doesn’t have enough basis of comparison to say anything about whether this is surprisingly high.

– During an epidemic, there are relatively many people who suddenly start doing research on a topic that they know relatively little about. But she says he will be able to increase the amount, compared to normal.

At the beginning of 2021, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stated in a report that the pandemic had led to an unprecedented mobilization of research and innovation. They describe how billions have been allocated to research related to COVID-19 in record time.

National research funders around the world spent more than five billion US dollars in emergency R&D funds in the first months alone.

At the same time, they point out, an overwhelming number of research articles on COVID-19 have been published. From the beginning of the year to the end of 2020 there was talk of about 75,000, but Frederik Sgaard of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates to Chrono that it could actually be at least 100,000, which amounts to about five percent of all research in one year.

This was just the beginning, and “a terribly large number” have since been published, in Grødeland’s words.

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It was previously questioned whether the need to get things out quickly outweighed the quality. early during the pandemic storm About a study published in The Lancet, which became later drawn After the disclosure of the Guardian newspaper.

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“a little out of control”

– A lot of money has been spent on covid research, so could that have contributed to the fact that sometimes things go really fast around the corners?

– I think that would be very different. When you look at the articles that have been retracted, the vast majority of them were published in the least interesting journals. It is they who are mainly affected by withdrawals, says Jonvig Grodeland.

She adds that some articles have also been pulled from a prestigious journal such as The Lancet, but she says this was typical because it was too early to draw conclusions and conclusions were later reversed.

“If you produce high-quality research, you produce high-quality research even during a pandemic,” says Grødeland.

At the same time, the senior researcher points out, there may also have been a number of environments that would not normally conduct research, and which had received funding from local hospitals or otherwise, in order to suddenly start producing research.

“It may have caused things to get out of control in some places,” she says.