Bullying and harassment COVID-19 Medicine Research integrity

Chloroquine genius Didier Raoult to save the world from COVID-19

As COVID19 pandemic rages on, French microbiologist Didier Raoult offers a cure. President Trump is convinced, but is Raoult's research reliable, here and in general?

Version française ici

Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is about to be stopped by a stroke of a French “genius” with a history of publishing manipulated data. The charismatic Didier Raoult, director of the Research Unit in Infectious and Tropical Emergent Diseases (URMITE) in Marseille has found a cure: the humble chloroquine, cheap unpatented substance used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatism. The substance so far failed in all antiviral therapies, but this didn’t prevent Raoult from deciding that chloroquine can cure corona virus infections, serious side effects notwithstanding. To prove that, Raoult treated 26 patients at his institution with the derivative hydroxychloroquine, alone and in combination with the antibiotic (meaning antibacterial!) drug azithromycine. The study was not randomised, ethically approved only after it already began, and it was not really controlled: the 16 control patients were treated in different clinics.

After some adjustments (patients removed, data points guessed), a preprint was published simultaneously with a paper in a peer reviewed journal Raoult basically controls. Next, a lawyer with whom Rault partnered with pitched the miracle cure to Fox News, which is the TV channel US president Donald Trump watches all day to get all his information. Trump then tweeted this:

Chaos ensued. People worldwide stormed pharmacies and pet shops for chloroquine, some killed themselves with aquarium cleaner, India banned chloroquine export, while national authorities including French government decided to deploy chloroquine as the medicine to treat COVID19. All based on Trump’s tweets which in turn was based on Fox News promotion of this study by Raoult:

Philippe GAUTRET , Jean Christophe LAGIER author has email , Philippe PAROLA , Van Thuan HOANG , Line MEDDED , Morgan MAILHE , Barbara DOUDIER , Johan COURJON , Valerie GIORDANENGO , Vera ESTEVES VIEIRA , Herve TISSOT DUPONT , Stephane HONORE , Philippe COLSON , Eric CHABRIERE , Bernard LA SCOLA , Jean Marc ROLAIN , Philippe BROUQUI , Didier RAOULT Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: preliminary results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial medRxiv (2020)  doi: 10.1101/2020.03.16.20037135 and International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949 

It is the opposite of proper clinical research practice. The trial started somewhere in March, likely before an ethics vote was applied for. But already on 11 February 2020 Raoult and colleagues decreed which drug can prevent and cure COVID-19. They wrote about chloroquine in Colson et al 2020, published in the same journal:

“Hence, its possible use both in prophylaxis in people exposed to the novel coronavirus and as a curative treatment will probably be promptly evaluated by our Chinese colleagues.”

Normally, Raoult demands that “Studies of infectious syndromes should no longer be mined without consistently using negative controls to assess the positive predictive value of a positive result.” This he obviously does not apply to himself, especially when the clinical result is already decided in advance. In his own research, Professor Raoult is no fan of randomised controlled clinical trials. A PubPeer user translated his interview:

“I have never done randomized trials (…). The effect of randomized stuff, maybe it works on people who had a myocardial infarction, but putting that in infectious diseases, it doesn’t make sense”

As Elisabeth Bik discussed, the paper was peer-reviewed in less than 24h, it probably helped that the journal’s Editor-in-Chief is both the paper’s coauthor and Raoult’s IHU subordinate Jean-Marc Rolain. Bik also listed other problems with that paper. Like this:

“In the EU Clinical Trial Register page, the study was described as evaluating PCR data on Day 1, Day 4, Day 7 and Day 14. However, the study show the data for Day 6, which is different than planned. Why did the authors not show the results on Day 7? Did the data on day 7 not look as good?”

Peer review apparently completed on the day of submission, revised version submitted the next morning.

In fact, the authors never showed the results of day 14 either. They also refused to share their secondary endpoint data, namely “the clinical effectiveness of treatment on time to apyrexia, normalization of respiratory rate, and average length of hospital stay and mortality”. Basically, it is none of anyone’s business to know if the therapy had any clinical benefit for the patients.

Noteworthy, the control patients were much younger than the treated ones. Which is convenient since COVID19 is generally not dangerous to younger persons. The average age of the control group was 37, that of hydroxychloroquine-treated group 53 years old. Also, as Bik noted:

“The [hydroxychloroquine] treated patients were all in Marseille, while the controls were located in Marseille or other centers.”

In February 2020, Raoult explained that COVID19 is statistically no more deadly than scooter accidents

Even then, additional tricks were apparently needed. Viral load in control patients was analysed by quantitative RT-PCR and a bit too liberally, as Bik explains:

“Of particular note, control patients 6 and 8-16 appear to have been analyzed differently. Their Day 0 PCR values are not given as CT values (the number of cycles after which a PCR becomes positive, the lower the number, the more virus is present) but as POS/NEG, suggesting a different test was used. […] Several patients in the control group did not even have a PCR result on Day 6, so it is not clear how they were counted in the Day 6 result.”

“Supplementary Table 1 (Table S1) from Gautret et al. Colored boxes added by Elisabeth Bik.”

Some control patients were tested only every second day, afterwards guessed to be positive, some were not tested at all on day 0, as a PubPeer commented noted. And then the authors simply changed the results in control patients between the “in press” and the final paper version, as another PubPeer uses observed:

In press, March 17
March 20. “It looks like all the ND (PCR not done) in the table were replaced by POS (patient not treated).

Another PubPeer user re-ran the analysis, because “an important number of non-treated patients were not tested by PCR (ND)“. Once the ND values were disregarded, there wasn’t any more significant difference between controls and chloroquine-treated patients.

Not only control group had to be adjusted: the treatment group somehow lost 6 patients, as Bik discussed:

“Although the study started with 26 patients in the HQ or HQ+AZ group, data from only 20 treated patients are given, because not all patients completed the 6-day study. The data for these 20 patients looks incredibly nice; especially the patients who were given both medications all recovered very fast.

What happened to the other six treated patients? Why did they drop out of the study? Three of them were transferred to the intensive care unit (presumably because they got sicker) and 1 died. The other two patients were either too nauseous and stopped the medication, or left the hospital […] So 4 of the 26 treated patients were actually not recovering at all.”

It seems, the authors simply removed inconvenient patients from the analysis before publishing their study. They left online their previous evaluation though, which showed a slightly different result, compare here the day 6 time point:

Fig 2 of the published paper/preprint
PowerPoint presentation on the institutional website

Statistical and ethical problems with that Gautret et al 2020 study were addressed extensively in this preprint by Dahly, Gates & Morris zenodo 2020. The authors also reject Raoult’s claims about previous positive results from China:

“In the background of their paper, Gautret et al referred to “an early clinical trial conducted in COVID-19 Chinese patients, [which] showed that chloroquine had a significant effect, both in terms of clinical outcome and viral clearance, when comparing to control groups”. There were two citations for this claim. The first was a letter7 that doesn’t report any trial data, but instead refers to a conference held in China in February, during which participants (“experts from government and regulatory authorities and organizers of clinical trials”) seemingly agreed that chloroquine was an efficacious treatment for COVID-19. The second cition (also included in the aforementioned letter) refers to a number of clinical trials registered in China, though many of these have now been suspended or closed, while the remaining trials are still recruiting (per their entries on http://www.chictr.org.cn as of March 21, 2020). Hence there are, to our knowledge, no other published reports of clinical trials testing the efficacy of chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment.”

You can buy professor Raoult’s book on COVID-19

However, now a proper randomised controlled clinical trial was done in China on chloroquine treatment of COVID19. The authors of Chen et al 2020 report:

“One patient in HCQ group developed to severe during the treatment. On day 7, COVID-19 nucleic acid of throat swabs was negative in 13 (86.7%) cases in the HCQ group and 14 (93.3%) cases in the control group (P>0.05). The median duration from hospitalization to virus nucleic acid negative conservation was 4 (1-9) days in HCQ group, which is comparable to that in the control group[2 (1-4) days, (U=83.5, P>0.05)]. The median time for body temperature normalization in HCQ group was 1 (0-2) after hospitalization, which was also comparable to that in the control group 1 (0-3). Radiological progression was shown on CT images in 5 cases (33.3%) of the HCQ group and 7 cases (46.7%) of the control group, and all patients showed improvement in follow-up examination. Four cases (26.7%) of the HCQ group and 3 cases (20%) of the control group had transient diarrhea and abnormal liver function (P>0.05)”

BUT WHAT IF RAOULT IS RIGHT AND IT WORKS?????

I hear you ask that. After all, Raoult is a star of French science: he publishes a scientific paper “nearly every work day”, thanks to 800 employees working under him, as a blog post mentioned, and he is so important that his Marseille collaborators named two bacteria species after the grand director: Raoultella planticola and Rickettsia raoultii.

Well, Elisabeth Bik found some very bad data fakery in a 15 year old Raoult-co-authored paper:

Florence Fenollar , Stéphane Sire , Nathalie Wilhelm , Didier Raoult Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis as an agent of blood culture-negative endocarditis in a human Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2005)
doi: 10.1128/jcm.43.2.945-947.2005

The gels are most obviously fake, falsified in Photoshop. In at least one instance, a gel band was erased digitally. Here a younger Raoult-coauthored paper from URMITE Marseille, and it is not much better:

Miguel A. De La Cruz , Weidong Zhao , Carine Farenc , Grégory Gimenez , Didier Raoult , Christian Cambillau , Jean-Pierre Gorvel , Stéphane Méress A toxin-antitoxin module of Salmonella promotes virulence in mice PLoS Pathogens (2013) doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003827

A gel lane was copied three times, while arrows indicate additional image manipulations in that gel figure. The last author Stéphane Méresse seems not to deny that the image was fabricated:

“This image should never have been published and we apologize for this mistake. Below two similar experiences leading to the same conclusion.”

Caught on fake data? Replace it with something else, conclusions not affected. As easy as removing patients from analysis or guessing PCR results. The research culture at URMITE produced also this beauty, again with Raoult as coauthor:

Aurélien Fotso Fotso , Oleg Mediannikov , Didier Raoult , Claude Nappez , Michel Drancourt , Michel Azza Monoclonal Antibodies for the Diagnosis of Borrelia crocidurae American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2016) doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.15-0436

That is truly a beautiful fake. Fractal bacteria, as someone commented on Twitter. Bik found also this, a 19 year old microscopy collage co-authored by Raoult:

S Meconi , C Capo , M Remacle-Bonnet , G Pommier , D Raoult , J L Meg Activation of protein tyrosine kinases by Coxiella burnetii: role in actin cytoskeleton reorganization and bacterial phagocytosis Infection and Immunity (2001) doi: 10.1128/iai.69.4.2520-2526.2001

The arrows indicate that the cells were digitally pasted in. To catch Raoult on having published fabricated data is not really a surprise, as it turned out.

More recently, Raoult’s lab simply slightly darkened an image of a 2D western blot and re-used it again, for a different bacteria. Nobody complained.

“Red boxes: Panels B (R. conorii IFA-negative serum on R. conorii-resolved 2D proteome) and E (R. africae IFA-negative serum on R. africae-resolved 2D proteome ) appear to look similar.”

M Kowalczewska, A N’Djatchi , C Nappez , S Alwassouf, P Decloquement, N Armstrong, K El Karkouri, S Edouard, D Raoult Identification of rickettsial immunoreactive proteins using a proximity ligation assay Western blotting and the traditional immunoproteomic approach Comparative Immunology Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (2018) doi: 10.1016/j.cimid.2018.06.004

Other PubPeer users joined Bik on the treasure hunt and found another duplicated gel, again slightly darkened:

S Edouard , G Subramanian , B Lefevre , A Dos Santos , P Pouedras , Y Poinsignon , O Mediannikov , D Raoult Co-infection with Arsenophonus nasoniae and Orientia tsutsugamushi in a traveler Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases (2013) doi: 10.1089/vbz.2012.1083

In 2012, Science magazine brought an article about Raoult’s scientific achievements, where hidden among all the celebration were descriptions of his bullying and lack of basic research integrity. Some quotes:

“Yet Raoult is also known for his enmities and his disdain for those who disagree with him. “People don’t like to talk about him because he has a lot of influence. He can make life hard for you,” says one of several French researchers contacted by Science who would only talk about Raoult if they could remain anonymous. “Few of his science colleagues will find the thought of another profile story about him particularly appealing,” geneticist Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University—who severed ties with Raoult in 2006 after a 5-year collaboration—wrote in an e-mail to Science“.

and then:

“But some scientists grumble that manuscripts out of Raoult’s lab often contain errors, for instance, as a result of unchecked genetic sequences.

Indeed, problems in a paper about a mouse model for typhus got his lab in hot water in 2006. A reviewer for Infection and Immunity, a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), discovered that four figures in a revised manuscript were identical to figures in the original manuscript, even though they were supposed to describe a different experiment.

In letters to ASM, made available by Raoult, second author Christian Capo and last author Jean-Louis Mège, a group leader, accepted “full responsibility” for the problem, which they said involved only two figures. Capo, in his letter, wrote that he had made an innocent mistake; Mège wrote that Capo had subsequently failed to show the revised manuscript to other authors, who were on vacation, before resubmitting it. But after consulting its ethics panel, ASM banned all five authors, including Raoult, from publishing in its journals for a year. “We are not entirely comfortable with the explanation provided,” ASM officials wrote to Mège. “Misrepresentation of data … is an affront to the ethical conduct of scientific inquiry.”

Capo and Mège accepted the decision, but Raoult wrote ASM that he wasn’t at fault and that the “collective punishment” was “very unfair.” He appealed the ban, also on behalf of two other co-authors, but lost. Furious, he resigned from the editorial board of two other ASM journals, canceled his membership in the American Academy of Microbiology, ASM’s honorific leadership group, and banned his lab from submitting to ASM journals, in which he had published more than 230 studies. His name has been on only two ASM journal papers since, both published in 2010. To clear his name, Raoult sent his ASM correspondence to French colleagues in 2007, along with a letter defending himself. “If I had been in the United States, I would have sued,” he wrote.”

Raoult did not like Science coverage of his genius. He made the journal publish an Erratum, where he even wrongly accused the author of shilling for Danone:

“IT WAS AN HONOR TO HAVE MY PROFILE PUBlished in Science (“Sound and fury in the microbiology lab,” C. Mary, News Focus, 2 March, p. 1033). However, I was surprised that 20% of the article is devoted to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) story, in which I was a collateral victim of a collective sanction (there has been no collective liability in France since World War II). I did not manage the paper and did not even check the last version. The mistake by C. Capo consists of a single figure inversion (not four, as stated in the Science profile). This paper has since been published (1). In January 2007, I was awarded one of the highest ASM honors—the ICAAC lecture—thus clearing doubts about my scientific integrity.”

Accusing your critics of being Nazis or Nazi collaborateurs is standard practice in French academia, especially when you are called out on data manipulation. But you probably started to get a gist that Raoult is not a nice man and not prepared to be criticised or disagreed with. He has a way to make his subordinates deliver the results he likes:

Now, the extra bit of irony is that Raoult is so full of himself that he published in 2018 an opinion piece to teach France some… research integrity. The occasion was the Catherine Jessus affair which I myself incidentally have caused.

Il pleut de la merde

In 2017, Raoult’s leadership was challenged by a sexual harassment and assault scandal at his URMITE institute, an affair with at least six victims which the director himself described as “a love story gone wrong“. The perpetrator was eventually sacked, but Raoult did not handle the case exemplary, quite the opposite. This article in MarsActu narrates that Raoult tried to hush up the affair for two years while even trying to have the victim sacked:

“For CGT union which made public the sanction at a press conference on Monday, these behaviours are not the result of misconduct of a single person but fall under a system set up around the personality of Director URMITE, Didier Raoult. “I am appalled by the fact that the director of the URMITE could not report acts of harassment to his superiors and his guardianship for two years” . […] “The alleged victims and the person they have named as their attacker were installed in adjacent laboratories within the new premises of the IHU” […] “threats (…) currently uttered by Mr. Raoult against Mrs. A, “ . “We have just been informed that Mr. Raoult intends to fire Mrs. A from URMITE. This is unacceptable “ .

Allegedly Raoult also threatened the other victim, a foreign graduate student, warning her that she will not be allowed to complete her thesis if she blows the whistle. Raoult rejected all accusations against himself and denied responsibility. In reality, the gigantic institute is run as his own private fiefdom, as a 2015 evaluation report criticised (discussed in this blog post). Harassment and abuse of students and employees used to be apparently normal under Raoult iron rule, as a 2017 union report criticised:

“Several students or former students testified to work hours without limits, aggravated work stress, work at night or on weekends. They seem to have an enormous pressure for results. Their presence on publications appears to be based on the needs of those responsible. A visit of the CHSCT helped to highlight the fact that, hitherto, lab coats were not provided to them, so they had to get one on their own and had to wash it outside, despite handling of pathogens in the laboratory. […]

We know of many transfer requests, made by the ITA, but also researchers, INSERM, CNRS and Aix-Marseille University. This seems not to have alerted the leadership on the situation of employees in the unit.
The head of the graduate school had to manage a significant number of students from reallocations of URMITE to other units, during or at the end of their thesis.”

Employees wrote in 2017 a protest letter denouncing Raoult’s dictatorship. A quote:

“Some of us are frequently belittled, mocked, humiliated, subjected to chauvinist remarks, inappropriate attitudes, violent verbal altercations, even threats from the hierarchy. One research engineer was threatened with professional death…”

The institute reacted by writing a letter to the Minister for Research announcing to punish the whistleblowers (see this blog post), whom Raoult described as “five or six grumpy jealous” and “bitter people“. This is revealing about how URMITE is run:

“A former research engineer URMITE explains that Didier Raoult works “with a table in his head” . “A cross-tabulation with two columns. He regards you more or less, depending on your status, doctor, pharmacist, researcher, engineer .. . And more or less depending on whether you are a man or a woman , he says. We had group meetings on Friday and I have often seen women from crying. “

Raoult demands results from his serfs, unconditionally:

“These tensions in the work are also felt by some doctoral students who describe situations of harassment. “Our research director, close to Didier Raoult, was struggling to handle the pressure that he put on him to get results, says one of them. Suddenly, a pyramid, the pressure fell on us.” He remembers meetings on “work in progress” where students whose work did not convince were humiliated by the research directors, with Raoult at the top.”

In March 2018, in the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal which he tried to hush up while threatening the victims, Raoult announced:

I thank you for having described this place as a brothel. I installed a condom machine “

Later in 2018, Raoult published an opinion piece in Le Point, where he used his authority as medical doctor and expert on sexually transmitted diseases to certify that the alleged victims of sexual harassment should not to be believed, not even by the police. In March 2020, Raoult brought back the sacked sex offender and arranged for him a job at an IHU Mediterranean spin-off. The unions wrote a protest letter, as Marsactu reported on 1 May 2020.

“Il pleut de la merde”: student performance from March 2018

Now consider this. Raoult’s past papers show falsified data, which even resulted in his ban by ASM for one year, to which Raoult responded with threats of lawsuit. He is a patriarchal control freak and a misogynous bully who violently punishes all disagreement and uses threats against whistleblowers and victims to achieve compliance. He is pathologically resistant to criticism and believes to be infallible and omniscient: Raoult denied anthropogenic climate change in 2013 and before that, the microbiologist even denied evolution in his 2011 book “Beyond Darwin“. Raoult’s new study on chloroquine as the cure for COVID19 is obviously flawed, at best.

Should we really trust his claims and put our all lives in his hands?

The article was significantly updated since it first appeared.


Update 7.04.2020

On 4 April, after being alerted by my readers on Twitter and in the comment section, I tweeted about a statement by the International Society for Microbial Chemotherapy (ISAC), which issues the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA). That was now picked up by international media an credited to Retraction Watch. The statement, signed by the society’s president Andreas Voss, was published on 3 April:

“ISAC shares the concerns regarding the above article published recently in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA). The ISAC Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.

Despite some suggestions online as to the reliability of the article’s peer review process, the process did adhere to the industry’s peer review rules. Given his role as Editor in Chief of this journal, Jean-Marc Rolain had no involvement in the peer review of the manuscript and has no access to information regarding its peer review. Full responsibility for the manuscript’s peer review process was delegated to an Associate Editor.

Although ISAC recognises it is important to help the scientific community by publishing new data fast, this cannot be at the cost of reducing scientific scrutiny and best practices. Both Editors in Chief of our journals (IJAA and Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance) are in full agreement.”

I contacted Voss and asked him if the paper will be retracted. Voss replied:

ISAC is not the publisher. That is Elsevier and as according to them all rules and industry standards were followed a retraction is not what they consider.

Voss then added:

we own the title of JGAR but not of IJAA. Still, IJAA is an “official society journal” and as such we feel the responsibility, which is why we expressed our concerns.

So it seems Elsevier put their foot down and said no.

Raoult’s institute on why evidence-based medicine is wrong

Update 10.04.2020

ISAC now replaced and backdated the statement. As I was told by Voss, this happened on orders from Elsevier, who apparently decided ISAC scientists are not qualified to form an opinion about clinical research. The original ISAC statement from 3 April is deleted and replaced with a joint statement of ISAC together with Elsevier. The critical first paragraph is gone, but this is added:

“At present, additional independent peer review is ongoing to ascertain whether concerns about the research content of the paper have merit. Given this process of post-publication assessment is on-going, it would be premature to comment at this time. The study authors have been contacted and asked to address the concerns. Depending on the nature of their response, a correction to the scientific record may be considered in accordance with the policies of Elsevier and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE): https://www.elsevier.com/editors/perk/corrections-to-the-record.”

Update 12.04.2020

Now both statements are online: the one from 3 April by ISAC, restored uncensored, and the joint statement from 11 April with Elsevier, as separate release. Thanks ISAC.

Read also the follow-up reporting here and here

Update 18.03.2021

I removed the previous update as it was misleading.

Here is something better, more data fakery by Team Raoult, spotted again by Elisabeth Bik!

Patricia Renesto, Pierre Dehoux, Edith Gouin, Lhousseine Touqui, Pascale Cossart, Didier Raoult Identification and Characterization of a Phospholipase D–Superfamily Gene in Rickettsiae The Journal of Infectious Diseases (2003) doi: 10.1086/379080

P Renesto, J Gouvernet, M Drancourt, V Roux, D Raoult Use of rpoB gene analysis for detection and identification of Bartonella species Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2001) doi: 10.1128/jcm.39.2.430-437.2001

Boxes of the same color show areas (some including bands) that look more similar to each other than expected.

Jérôme Dellacasagrande, Eric Ghigo, Sarah Machergui-El, Hammami, Rudolf Toman, Didier Raoult, Christian Capo, Jean-Louis Mege alpha(v)beta(3) integrin and bacterial lipopolysaccharide are involved in Coxiella burnetii-stimulated production of tumor necrosis factor by human monocytes Infection and Immunity (2000) doi: 10.1128/iai.68.10.5673-5678.2000

“Similar to what is observed in Figure 1B, but unlike all the other blots, there appears to be a repetitive area under the bands in the TNF blot.”

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267 comments on “Chloroquine genius Didier Raoult to save the world from COVID-19

  1. Athanaore porphryrogenete

    OK, so with Trump apparently supporting Raoult, an army of volunteers have decided that scanning and running al the 3.000 papers of Raoult through an image duplication software was the most urgent thing to do. Here is what they came out with. This is what gets Leonid so excited.

    What drove me nuts these last years have been all the cases of bands flipped 180 degrees – often out of the plane, something forbidden when ice skating – in photoshop and pasted. You don’t flip things like that by chance. This is genuinely disingenuous. By contrast, c/ping the wrong figure is something that happens a LOT, to all of us. Sometimes you catch it sometimes you don’t. If it is a secondary supporting figure, you never catch it. If it is a secondary paper you often don’t pay attention. Correcting the abstract is depressing enough….

    Now, I would argue that with four exceptions, everything reported inpub-peerr is minor, and within the boundaries of acceptable mistakes in a very big lab. Even considering the three worst ones (band duplications and re-used background), If one was to randomly take 3.000 publications, I am sure many many more things would come up. But it’s all about destroying Raout right? Because of Trump right?

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/E71C8E0323F9C4335AFEAC9E28BD76
    OK, they packed in a bit more in the images. – bad practice for sure, scientific crime? I don’t think so

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/E71C8E0323F9C4335AFEAC9E28BD76
    duplicated picture, used to be shown as an exemple. Give me ONE conclusion of the paper SUPPORTED OR NOT by this figure. May the one who never messed up the images throw the first pixel. If you have no reason to fraud, the most likely explanation is a mistake. And yes, kit happens – A LOT

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/4608D42F05A64C8CC261791FBF0E8B
    cut and paste bands with different labels. Bad style yes

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/17FFAA6A308B1C585F5B858270E602
    possible case of the same gel at different exposure levels with different labels. Bad style, yes

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/4608D42F05A64C8CC261791FBF0E8B#7
    cut and paste bands with different labels. Bad style yes

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/D2FBE34F49E965A8BE6730E531E9F1#1
    clear resume of the background -> bad style. AT the same time it is the validation of a monoclonal antibody. Ohhh. What an offense to science. Just a poor engineering paper

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/94C83AFDA24223756DB6B7067EB483#3
    duplication of Figure …. S15 . Oh my god. S15! Who has ever looked at S15. You put S15 for yourself, just to make sure you remember what you actually did

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/8A980938D1FAEA13F9CBF1884C2002#1
    Oh my god, the citations are not where they should be. Retract Retract

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/54C2CD0E0EC09BFFDD962977373AE6#0
    slight imprecision on the strains

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/58C978FB447B6D3D849F2CAD757F13#0
    slight imprecision on the strains

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/1790C23F38ECA4972F1F703EA6875F#0
    slight imprecision on the strains

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/3480B9DE6C9330B0747034C330BA6A
    big fight between Raoult and Claverie on calling the viral system a CRISPR – good science

    Liked by 1 person

    • alfricabos

      “By contrast, c/ping the wrong figure is something that happens a LOT, to all of us.” I am sorry, but this is called sloppiness.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Tom

    Clinicians in Italy, Spain and France at this very moment are having to choose who to treat based on assumed outcome. Individuals requiring critical care will not receive it. Those individuals are entitled to that treatment and these states have an obligation to protect and care for its citizens. Unfortunately this pandemic has put clinicians in a war time situation and outcome based assessments are needed because of a lack of resources.

    With the reality of having to deny individuals critical care and instead managing, if the patients are lucky, their final days and hours it would seem to me to be quite ethical for a doctor to consider a request from a patient for treatment with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and zpac.

    Like

  3. philippe

    Just released covid-19 80 patients Professeur raoult

    Click to access COVID-IHU-2-1.pdf

    Like

    • Some other researcher

      So let me see if I understand this correctly:

      Only 15 % of the patients had a fever?

      4 were asymptomatic carriers but still hospitalized?

      There was no informed consent for the treatment?

      There was no randomized control group despite the mostly mild symptoms?

      It’s extremely unclear why most of these patients were hospitalized in the first place. Difficulty to breathe?

      Like

  4. Just realeased covid-19 new 80 patients results Professeur Raoult

    Click to access COVID-IHU-2-1.pdf

    Like

  5. Dr Zierer

    Hydroxychloroquinine (HCQ) is also used in rheumatism therapy to immobilize neutrophiel granulocytes (PMN), since HCQ binds to PMN micro-tubules, further to that priming of the PMN is reduced. As a result, pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6 are released to a lesser extent if the PMN overreacts to stimuli such as LPS, viruses (in NK cells) and complement components. It apparently also works in the CNS, where it reduces the release of IL-1 and resolves psychiatric symptoms (off-label use in: Bartonella henselae Bloodstream Infection in a Boy With Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6423671/ ). The same applies to the spindle poison colchicine, which also reduces inflammation by reduction of release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Colchicine is concentrated in PMN and nerve cells, not in serum. We have successfully used this – off label (analog to Mediterranean familiar fever) – to lower fever due to systemic IL-6 overproduction in a post- infectious syndrome of C jejuni, after prednisolone 100mg, novalgin (3000mg), paracetamol 5000mg), ibuprofen (2000mg) were ineffective in lowering fever. It could be, that excessive recruitment and over-priming of PMN followed by excessive release of pro-inflammatory cytokine, that body’s own defense could damage organs , which could be prevented by , HCQ or colchicine. However, this does not mean that HCQ interferes with the metabolism of Covid-19 replication. Azithromycin (AZT) accumulates in the PMN, especially the alveolar macorphage. These are eukaryotes, where it inhibits the ribosomal protein synthesis of prokaryotes (bacteria) that have been phagocytized. AZT could thus prevent bacterial superinfection as part of a Covid 19 virus infection. AZT is a macrolide, and an inhibitory intervention in Covid 19 virus replication would be extremely surprising. The combination of AZT and HCQ has also been successfully used to treat neuropsychiatric symptoms of a child, infected with B henselae, supra, unfortunately, the doctors had not carried out an analysis of the pro-inflammatory cytokines in that case.
    It would be helpful if there would surface some evidence about AZT and HCQ that affect the virus metabolism. So far, from clinical aspects, I would suggest, that the combination of HQC and AZT would simply ameliorate the inflammatory symptoms of Corona-19-virus infection, such as bacterial pneumonia, but not counter act the virus infection as such. Not at all I can see a preventive measurement of the combination of HQC and AZT in counteracting the Corona-19-virus infection

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean-François Cloutier

    «Now consider this. Raoult’s past papers show falsified data, which even resulted in his ban by ASM for one year, to which Raoult responded with threats of lawsuit. He is a patriarchal control freak and a misogynous bully who violently punishes all disagreement and uses threats against whistleblowers and victims to achieve compliance. He is pathologically resistant to criticism and believes to be infallible and omniscient: Raoult denied anthropogenic climate change in 2013 and before that, the microbiologist even denied evolution in his 2011 book “Beyond Darwin“. Raoult’s new study on chloroquine as the cure for COVID19 is obviously flawed, at best.»

    This is political ans social ideological bullshit..

    Like

  7. So what you tell us is that all those searchers are fake and liars?? Florence Fenollar , Stéphane Sire , Nathalie Wilhelm, Miguel A. De La Cruz , Weidong Zhao , Carine Farenc , Grégory Gimenez , Didier Raoult , Christian Cambillau , Jean-Pierre Gorvel , Stéphane Méress, Aurélien Fotso Fotso , Oleg Mediannikov , Claude Nappez , Michel Drancourt , Michel Azza, S Meconi , C Capo , M Remacle-Bonnet , G Pommier , J L Meg, M Kowalczewska, A N’Djatchi , C Nappez , S Alwassouf, P Decloquement, N Armstrong, K El Karkouri, and S Edouard.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Philippe

    Interesting article that is so biased and full of attack. You should be a shame of yourself., particularly in these times. We should have listened to the Chinese first, then to the Pr Raoult that basically run a study to verify these results and now backed up with another study on 80 patients and no confirmed by the Australian. This treatment is the only thing we have and if we had practiced it 2 months we would not have been where we are now. In time of urgency you have to take shortcut and trust your experts. Let me guess you must be biased politically to write such crap. These experts dedicated their life to this science. Shame on you!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your Pr Raoult is so used to lying that he even lied about Chinese preliminary data, which doesn’t exist. While you eat your aquarium cleaner, I updated my article with this:

      Statistical and ethical problems with that Gautret et al 2020 study were addressed extensively in this preprint by Dahly, Gates & Morris zenodo 2020. The authors also reject Raoult’s claims about previous positive results from China:

      “In the background of their paper, Gautret et al referred to “an early clinical trial conducted in COVID-19 Chinese patients, [which] showed that chloroquine had a significant effect, both in terms of clinical outcome and viral clearance, when comparing to control groups”. There were two citations for this claim. The first was a letter7 that doesn’t report any trial data, but instead refers to a conference held in China in February, during which participants (“experts from government and regulatory authorities and organizers of clinical trials”) seemingly agreed that chloroquine was an efficacious treatment for COVID-19. The second cition (also included in the aforementioned letter) refers to a number of clinical trials registered in China, though many of these have now been suspended or closed, while the remaining trials are still recruiting (per their entries on http://www.chictr.org.cn as of March 21, 2020). Hence there are, to our knowledge, no other published reports of clinical trials testing the efficacy of chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment.”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: De linke weekendbijlage (13-2020) - Kloptdatwel?

  10. Pingback: Post-publication reviews on COVID-19 papers – Science Integrity Digest

  11. French MD

    He just wants to promote his new book, issues yesterday, about pandemics (how convenient)…. with a big “covid 19” on the cover

    Like

  12. Hi Leonid,

    As a non scientist, I have a couple of questions about modifying images in scientific publications.

    Here is an article identified on Pubpeers as having doctored images (not a Raoult publication) : https://pubpeer.com/publications/7B8DDC913375F15C078F677F20594F

    The author replied that the images had been modified “for the sake of clarity” and publishes the complete images.

    Is it common for scientists to modify images “for the sake of clarity” ? Is a modified image in itself enough to invalidate a publication’s conclusions ?

    Many thanks and regards.

    Like

    • This was Anne Peyroche replying. Knowing her criminal energy, I would not trust the image she posted as raw data. https://forbetterscience.com/2020/02/19/cea-declares-anne-peyroches-data-fakery-scientifically-correct/

      Liked by 1 person

    • arthroceph@gmail.com

      Hey Paul, that’s a good point. However, one would then expect the image/figure caption to say as much, i.e. “in the interests of clarity, we have done … such and such”. Generally, raw, unadulterated data is prized. So the answer would be no.

      In any case, the target audience of scientific papers is scientific peers, not the public at large, so clarity is not often prioritised. A certain mimimum level is required, but only in the sense that the arguments should be logical. In practice however, scientific papers are devoid of narrative, are often just listings of facts, and avoid saying one thing in more than one way, which is often a hallmark of clear exposition (an exception would be summaries and abstracts, but these are meant to also be self-standing, that is why they repeat material).

      A more plausible reason for manipulation would not be for increasing clarity, but for reducing verbosity, or cutting down outsized images that wouldn’t fit on the publisher’s page. Actually this is common in mathematical graphs, where axes and scales are often manipulated so that the figure will fit in its allocated space. Again however, the caption to the graph would really have to be explicit about what was done.

      Like

    • Sorry I should have also commented on your final question: “Is a modified image in itself enough to invalidate a publication’s conclusions ?”

      As it stands, I would say, “not often, no” to this question. I would say, it may diminish the respect and integrity attached to the authors, but may be not even in a substantial way, as long as, and this should be stressed, no intention to delude can be perceived.

      However, deadlines, and the resulting rush often make it unclear as to what extent an image manipulation is an overt objective, rather than the effect of the pressure of having to submit within a prescribed time frame. As per my previous point, however, it may be better to include a caption saying “in the interests of timeliness, we have manipulated this figure, etc.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sebastien

    Truly interesting content! I also feel very skeptical about chloroquine to treat Covid19. But some of your statements deeply question your own integrity and objectivity on this topic. Stating that French government decided to deploy chloroquine as the medicine to treat COVID19 (…) based on Trump’s tweets is really a big joke. And strongly minors the credibility of this publication.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry about that. Of course French government issued this guideline based on peer reviewed research of Pr Raoult and following Macron’s coordination with US President. My apologies. I will delete my site now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Euh, no: French Government has not decided to deploy chloroquine as THE medecine to treat Covid19 : they just open the possibility to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Karl Friedrich

      You obviously underestimate the mendacity of your average right wing politician.

      Like

  14. bill wilder

    As much as it pains you to give Dr. Raoult any credit, here are the results of a second study (80 patients) that shows tremendous results. https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-IHU-2-1.pdf

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: Thoughts on the Gautret et al. paper about Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin treatment of COVID-19 infections – Science Integrity Digest

  16. A new batch of datas has been send to the french experts by Raoult pertaining to more than 700 patients contamined and treated with the 2 molecules. Only 1 death for the moment.
    to follow….

    Like

    • Some other researcher

      And how many of those patients were actually seriously ill? That preprint you’ve been spamming here gives the impression that you have been wasting precious hospital resources on hospitalizing patients with no or minimal symptoms and then subjected them to experimental treatment without informed consent.

      Like

      • «And how many of those patients were actually seriously ill?»

        This is actually Raoult point. He give treatment as soon as you have symptoms or as you are test positive, so his method lower viral charge and lower chance to get more severed ill as he give medicin at the very early stage.

        Like

      • Some other researcher

        “This is actually Raoult point. He give treatment as soon as you have symptoms or as you are test positive, so his method lower viral charge and lower chance to get more severed ill as he give medicin at the very early stage.”

        That’s how he hopes it works as prophylaxis but he doesn’t actually know this since he refused to do a proper randomized controlled study. Which he had and still has an excellent opportunity to do.

        Like

      • Recent news:

        «Das Malariamittel ist unsere grösste Hoffnung»
        Novartis-Chef Vas Narasimhan über den Kampf gegen das Virus und den Stopp des Jobabbau-Programmes.
        “Pre-clinical studies in animals as well as the first data from clinical studies show that hydroxychloroquine kills the coronavirus,” Narasimhan told the newspaper. “We’re working with Swiss hospitals on possible treatment protocols for the clinical use of the drug, but it’s too early to say anything definitively.”

        https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/sonntagszeitung/das-malariamittel-ist-unsere-groesste-hoffnung/story/23326259
        2. FDA issues emergency authorization of anti-malaria drug for coronavirus care

        https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/29/fda-emergency-authorization-anti-malaria-drug-155095

        Like

  17. JL in NJ

    My grandfather was a NYC policeman during 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Things were dire and working with doctors the police would take away sick family members to a field hospital. This was done to help spare the rest of family and to help isolate the disease. My mother was 3 years old at the time with a baby sister. To avoid bringing the disease home, the doctor advised my grandfather to always wash up and change clothes outside the home. In addition he was told to chew tobacco all day long. In the evening wash out the tobacco and gargle with scotch whiskey. The family stayed well through out the epidemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Zierer

      My father was a child in 1919, in the German colony of South-West-Africa,, living in Luederitz-Bay (now state of Namibia). he reported, that people with Spanish flue were concentrated by the British authorities on shark-island, in front of the Luederitz bay. At that time, there was no help at all, more worse, due to WW1, people, in particular of the loser-side (Germany-Austria-Hungarian Nations on Balkan-Ukrainia) were heavily starved and in addition incapacitated by tuberculosis, which paved the way for the viral invasion. Thats why there was the incredible high death rate due to Spanish flue in central Europe / continental Europe, compared to the Entente, whose population had free supply of food. now days, fortunately, Europe did not have that 4-year-long-lasting war, obviously free access to food supply, and no spread of tuberculosis, at least in central Europe. The outcome of COVID-19 should be different from 1919-Spanish-flue in Europe. On other continents with different nutritional and infectious co-background , it could be different.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. 100% of the 701 patients have been tested + covid 19 before getting the treatment of course.
    You will see the study very soon.
    I do not know what you are talking about regarding spamming….
    If the patient is seriously ill ( like intubeted) the treatment wont work ( usually viral charge is low at that stage).
    That is why Raoult recommands giving the treatment at the begining to reduce the viral charge so infection dont get time to develop.
    So i agree with a part of what you said treatement is not really working with patient seriously ill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some other researcher

      The preprint was clear about the patients having tested positive for Covid-19 but that does not generally result in hospitalization. Most patients are just isolated at home and it is a pretty huge difference in severity between a mild fever to the need of intubation. Further, I see no justifications for not doing a proper randomized controlled trial with the patients who had mild symptoms. It seems to me that Raoult is so enamored with the idea of hydroxychloroquinine working that he is wasting precious time and resources that should have been used to test whether it actually works in a randomized trial.

      Randomly assigned 30 treated + 30 controls from the low risk group in the preprint might not be the largest amount but if the efficiency actually is good enough to be a “game changer” it should have been clear enough to see there. The way it was done instead leaves me with absolutely no idea to whether hydroxychloroquinine really is working or not.

      Like

  19. viral load not charge 🙂

    Like

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