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Publications

Why a Group of Behavioural Scientists Penned an Open Letter to the U.K. Government Questioning Its Coronavirus Response – Behavioural Scientist

The open letter raises questions about the behavioural science evidence that may have been used to justify this decision—though a lack of transparency from the government has made it hard to discern what the official policy is.

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Publications

Corruption in global health: the open secret – The Lancet (2019)

Corruption is embedded in health systems. Throughout my life—as a researcher, public health worker, and a Minister of Health—I have been able to see entrenched dishonesty and fraud. But despite being one of the most important barriers to implementing universal health coverage around the world, corruption is rarely openly discussed. In this Lecture, I outline the magnitude of the problem of corruption, how it started, and what is happening now. I also outline people’s fears around the topic, what is needed to address corruption, and the responsibilities of the academic and research communities in all countries, irrespective of their level of economic development. Policy makers, researchers, and funders need to think about corruption as an important area of research in the same way we think about diseases. If we are really aiming to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure healthy lives for all, corruption in global health must no longer be an open secret.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)32527-9/fulltext

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Publications

RAPID RISK ASSESSMENT Outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

About 80% of patients have mild to moderate disease (including non-pneumonia and pneumonia cases), 13.8% have severe disease and 6.1% are critical (respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction/failure). Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death are people aged over 60 years of age and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. About 2.4% of the total reported cases were individuals under 19 years of age. A very small proportion of those aged under 19 years have developed severe (2.5%) or critical disease (0.2%).

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/RRA-outbreak-novel-coronavirus-disease-2019-increase-transmission-globally-COVID-19.pdf

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Publications

Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period – Sicence Magazine

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/14/science.abb5793

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Publications

Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm – NIH

The term “cytokine storm” calls up vivid images of an immune system gone awry and an inflammatory response flaring out of control (Fig. 1). The term has captured the attention of the public and the scientific community alike and is increasingly being used in both the popular media and the scientific literature. However, while the general concept of an excessive or uncontrolled release of proinflammatory cytokines is well known, an actual definition of what constitutes a cytokine storm is lacking. Furthermore, there is not a good understanding of the molecular events that precipitate a cytokine storm, of the contribution such a “storm” makes to pathogenesis, or of what therapeutic strategies might be used to prevent the storm or quell it once it has started.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3294426/

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Publications

Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals – Richard Smith, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works. Nevertheless, it is likely to remain central to science and journals because there is no obvious alternative, and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420798/

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Opinion Publications

Excess deaths: government commissions review – BMJ

[Nicola Oliver ] tells us that 15,969 people died of flu (in England) last year, although only 320 died in hospital, and 15,649 were apparently left to die without due medical attention at home. What she fails to note is that the 15,969 deaths were not recorded deaths but a projection derived from the Flumomo algorithm [2] for ‘flu attributable deaths’ based on all cause mortality [3], so it does not really get us anywhere (except that it is just kind of thing I am complaining about!)

https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2795/rapid-responses

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Publications

COVID-19 is having a profound effect on mental health and physical health – The Lancet

Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19
pandemic: a call for action for mental health science

PDF download of the paper available from The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(20)30168-1.pdf

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Publications

Characteristics of COVID-19 patients dying in Italy Report based on available data on March 20th, 2020 – Professor Walter Ricciardi, ISS

The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus […] On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,

https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/bollettino/Report-COVID-2019_20_marzo_eng.pdf

Commentary from Off-Guardian:

Italian death toll figures could have been artificially inflated by up to 88%. If true, this would mean the total number of Italians who have actually died of Covid19 could be as low as ~700. Which would bring Italy, currently a statistical outlier in terms of Covid19 fatalities, well in line with the rest of the world.

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Publications

The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence – The Lancet

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext

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News Publications

UCL: closing schools does not help control COVID-19 epidemic

School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30095-X/fulltext

Summary from BBC News:

  • While school closures help during influenza outbreaks, the same may not apply to coronavirus
  • Data from the Sars outbreak (in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore) suggest that school closures did not contribute to the control of the epidemic
  • Recent modelling studies of Covid-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2%-4% of deaths, many fewer than other social distancing interventions
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News Publications

COVID-19 Models Misrepresent Reality

According to Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. a physical scientist in Colorado, USA, the COVID-19 models misrepresent reality.

Comparing #COVID19 Projections (https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections) with reported data by Covid Tracking (https://covidtracking.com/data/) for Apr 5:

  • Overestimation of hospitalizations: 8 times
  • Overestimation of of ICU beds needed: 6.4 times
  • Overestimation of ventilators needed: 40.5 times

These are the types of “projections” that drive the #COVID19 hysteria. The level of exaggeration by these so-called models is staggering. This is also what JUNK science looks like.
Dr. Fauci’s recommendations for lockdown are based on such faulty models. It’s truly a disgrace!

Ned Nikolov: verestimation of hospitalizations
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Publications

Microbial Exposure During Early Life Has Persistent Effects on Natural Killer T Cell Function – Science

Exposure to microbes during early childhood is associated with protection from immune-mediated diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and asthma. Here, we show that in germ-free (GF) mice, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells accumulate in the colonic lamina propria and lung, resulting in increased morbidity in models of IBD and allergic asthma as compared with that of specific pathogen-free mice. This was associated with increased intestinal and pulmonary expression of the chemokine ligand CXCL16, which was associated with increased mucosal iNKT cells. Colonization of neonatal—but not adult—GF mice with a conventional microbiota protected the animals from mucosal iNKT accumulation and related pathology. These results indicate that age-sensitive contact with commensal microbes is critical for establishing mucosal iNKT cell tolerance to later environmental exposures.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

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Publications

What is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and what is it used for? – MedicineNet

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and its sister drug chloroquine (Aralen) are under investigation for treatment of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease

Korean doctors used these anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID-19 with some success, according to a paper filed with Elsevier in March 2020, but effectiveness is unproven.

https://www.medicinenet.com/hydroxychloroquine/article.htm

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Publications

Discrepancies between Antigen and Polymerase Chain Reaction Tests for the Detection of Rotavirus and Norovirus – PubMed (2016)

We compared the results of an antigen test (ELISA) with those of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of rotavirus and norovirus in stool specimens. Rotavirus and norovirus antigen-positive stool specimens were collected, and rotavirus and norovirus PCRs were performed on these specimens. Of the 325 rotavirus antigen-positive specimens, 200 were positive for both assays and 125 were PCR negative. Of 286 norovirus antigen-positive specimens, 51 were PCR negative. Comparison of the lower limit of detection showed that rotavirus PCR was 16 times more sensitive and norovirus PCR was over 4,000 times more sensitive than the ELISA. Discrepant results between ELISA and PCR were common, and the possibility of false-positive and false-negative results should be considered with rotavirus and norovirus assays.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27312553

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Publications

Polio eradication: a complex end game – BMJ (2012)

Polio vaccines are not only ineffective in preventing paralysis, they carry the risk of contamination with many harmful adventitious microorganisms, of which only some monkey viruses have been researched in more detail. Many other potentially dangerous microorganisms remain unaddressed.

https://web.archive.org/web/20201207083415/https://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2398/rr/599724

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Publications

Population-level COVID-19 mortality risk for non-elderly individuals overall and for non-elderly individuals without underlying diseases in pandemic epicenters – medRxiv

 CONCLUSIONS: People <65 years old have very small risks of COVID-19 death even in pandemic epicenters and deaths for people <65 years without underlying predisposing conditions are remarkably uncommon. Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic.

COVID-19 is largely harmless to the general population under 65 with no pre-existing conditions, who are more likely to die in a road accident.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.05.20054361v2

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Publications

The rate of positive tests in the US, France, Germany and Switzerland is not increasing exponentially

The rate of positive tests in the US, France, Germany and Switzerland is not increasing exponentially.

Felix Scholkmann is a biophysicist at University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

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Publications

How is the COVID-19 Virus Detected using Real Time RT-PCR? – IAEA

Real time RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus. Originally, the method used radioactive isotope markers to detect targeted genetic materials, but subsequent refining has led to the replacement of the isotopic labelling with special markers, most frequently fluorescent dyes. With this technique, scientists can see the results almost immediately while the process is still ongoing; conventional RT-PCR only provides results at the end.

While real time RT-PCR is now the most widely used method for detecting coronaviruses, many countries still need support in setting up and using the technique.

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/how-is-the-covid-19-virus-detected-using-real-time-rt-pcr

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Publications

Stability issues of RT-PCR testing of SARS-CoV-2 for hospitalized patients clinically diagnosed with COVID-19.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32219885