The World Health Organization (WHO), along with several countries, reportedly relied on dubious findings from a very small U.S. company for the basis of their decision making around COVID-19.
Data from the U.S.-based company Surgisphere provided the basis for a number of scientific articles on COVID-19, which were also co-authored by its chief executive, that led to changes in multiple countries’ policies for COVID-19 and their treatments, according to the Guardian. It was also behind WHO’s decision to halt their clinical trials of the heavily debated drug, hydroxychloroquine.
Last week the #COVID19 Solidarity Trial Executive Group implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns about the safety of the drug. This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed.https://t.co/3mGO6fT41d
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) June 3, 2020
Two medical journals, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, published scientific research based on Surgisphere data and methodology, according to The Guardian. Both jounrals decided to release an “expression of concern” about their studies this week. (RELATED: Questions Emerge Over Studies Purporting Dangerous Effects Of Hydroxychloroquine And Another Class Of Medications On COVID-19 Patients)
The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium decided to halt trials on hydroxychloroquine following the WHO’s decision, according to Reuters. Furthermore, France banned the usage of hydroxychloroquine by physicians, which had previously been allowed to be used in specific situations involving COVID-19 infected patients. Several Latin American countries also changed their policies based on studies that relied on this data, according to The Guardian.
Surgisphere currently only has five employees, according to the company’s LinkedIn, including a science editor who is believed to be a science-fiction author and a fantasy artist, as well as a marketing executive who is an adult model and events hostess, the Guardian reported.
The company’s chief executive, Sapan Desai, has been named in three medical malpractice suits unrelated to the Surgisphere database, according to The Guardian’s investigation, which Desai described to Science Daily as “unfounded.” In 2008, he also launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for a wearable “next generation human augmentation device that can help you achieve what you never thought was possible,” which never came to fruition, according to The Guardian.