Ingraham tattles on The Lancet!

THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2020

The things they hear while we don't:
What is the nature of tribalized news?

Consider the Lancet study. Also, consider the study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The studies appeared in May. Especially in the liberal world, they received a lot of attention. As we look at the start of this New York Times report, we can quickly see why:
GRADY (5/23/20): The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not help coronavirus patients and may have done harm, according to a new study based on the records of nearly 15,000 patients who received the drugs and 81,000 who did not.

Some were also given the antibiotic azithromycin, or a related medicine.

Hydroxychloroquine is the drug that President Trump has advocated, and that he said he has been taking in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection.

People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, according to the study in the The Lancet. They were also more likely to die. But the findings were not definitive, because the study was observational, meaning that the patients were not picked at random to receive the drug or not, and may have had underlying differences that affected their outcomes.
The Lancet is a very big deal; so is the NEJM. These studies seemed to blow a large hole in Mister Trump's Favorite Pharmaceutical, so they got major play on CNN and MSNBC.

We know that because we watched a bit of Laura Ingraham's program last night. When we flipped over, Laura was playing tape from some of our favorite cable shows and laughing at what had been said.

Laura Ingraham was blowing the whistle on The Lancet! Her source was a news report in yesterday's New York Times.

Uh-oh! The NEJM has now expressed doubts about the study it published. So too with The Lancet:
RABIN (6/3/20): Since the outbreak began, researchers have rushed to publish new findings about the coronavirus spreading swiftly through the world. On Tuesday, for the second time in recent days, a group of clinicians and researchers has questioned the data used in studies in two prominent medical journals.

A group of scientists who raised questions last week about a study in The Lancet about the use of antimalarial drugs in coronavirus patients have now objected to another paper about blood pressure medicines in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was published by some of the same authors and relied on the same data registry.

Moments after their open letter was posted online Tuesday morning, the editors of the N.E.J.M. posted an “expression of concern” about the paper,
and said they had asked the paper’s authors to provide evidence that the data are reliable.

The Lancet followed later in the day with a statement about its own concerns regarding the malarial drugs paper,
saying that the editors have commissioned an independent audit of the data.
You can read yesterday's full report for yourselves. We don't know if those studies will be vindicated. Instead, our point is this:

Last evening, Fox viewers heard all about the problems with these studies. They got to laugh at the way cable hosts on CNN and MSNBC had touted the studies' findings, sometimes in a slightly triumphalist way..

On CNN and MSNBC, the walk-back by these major journals didn't get much play at all. This is the nature of tribalized "news" in a tribalized corporate news era.

Telling the news in a slanted fashion is now extremely big business. In such an environment, the facts will sometimes be misleading or wrong, and the logic may not be much better.

On Fox, they heard about the two journals' walk-backs. Over Here, not so much.

45 comments:

  1. “They[Fox viewers] got to laugh at the way cable hosts on CNN and MSNBC had touted the studies' findings”

    Of course they did. That is the point of Fox’s coverage, an unserious mockery of the other side.

    You had the president urging people to take the drug. This was completely unsound, unscientific and potentially deadly advice. Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC were urging caution. When the study came out indicating that the drug might actually be dangerous, they reported on that important finding.

    Now, in the normal course of vetting scientific studies that are being conducted with a heightened sense of urgency, an earlier study is called into question. That is part of the process. Whether it turns out that the drug is harmless does not change the insanity of Trump telling people to take it and Fox News spending hours of their air time also urging people to take it.

    I know which side I want to be on here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s not like you can go get this drug like it’s cherry cough drops. It has to be prescribed and monitored by a physician.

      Delete
    2. I'm sure Trump and his buddies know someone who will sell it to you under the counter.

      Delete
    3. It fell off the back of a truck.

      Delete
    4. If I’m going to do that, I’m going for something better than an anti malaria drug.

      I’ve always thought I might try meth.

      Delete
    5. "I’ve always thought I might try meth."

      Good choice. It's not going to change YOUR brain too much.

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  2. Somerby is easily played by the right. Questions were raised about the data and they are being independently investigated. The time to "walk back" the original story, is after the criticisms raised by "clinicians and researchers" are supported by that investigation, not when the complaints are raised.

    A potential treatment needs to be proven to be safe and effective, not assumed safe and effective until proven otherwise (which is Trump's approach). The reported study questioned the safety and the effectiveness both. The drug seems to have some powerful backers. They raised a POTENTIAL criticism of the study -- they didn't establish that the drug was safe and effective, only that the study showing it was not may have been flawed. It remains to prove the drug and that isn't achieved by criticizing a study showing that the drug doesn't work.

    But Somerby thinks MSNBC should be saying what? That it is OK to use the drug? No, that isn't established. Should they say the published study was wrong -- no, they cannot say that until the investigation is done. So there is nothing to say until the investigation is done, and even then there is nothing to say because eliminating the original study merely takes you back to the status quo in which the president has touted a drug with no proven safety or effectiveness, most likely to financial reasons or to reward some crony.

    But the larger question is: why can't Somerby reason his way through this situation? Why is he so eager to jump onto the right's bandwagon? What does he think he "knows" from this challenge, which has been widely reported on left as well as right media sites, including the NY Times?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “Somerby is easily played by the right.”

      Somerby knows exactly what he is doing.

      Delete
    2. Oh, mh, what has happened to you?

      Delete
    3. Not a thing. Do you think Somerby is being “played” or duped by the right, like some mark? Is he really that stupid? I think he is quite intelligent.

      Delete
    4. I think he’s quite intelligent.

      I’m not sure where he’s gone so astray in your book. He says that both side are shielded from information that would challenge their narratives. That’s not an outrageous claim. News agencies do have a monetary interest in keeping an audience.
      Somerby uses the fact that while the study in question received wide coverage, the questions concerning its accuracy did not.

      What you want is for Somerby to launch into some sort of mitigation of his point. Some tribal gesture of “Yes, we’re all played, but Fox News sucks and they’re still awful over there.” Occasionally, he does that, but not always. Frankly, you shouldn’t constantly need that sort of “righting” of the world. It’s doctrinaire and smells like militancy or zealotry.





      Delete
    5. mh, let say too, that this blog was not on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of covid-19.

      Delete
  3. "Over Here, not so much."

    Yes, dear Bob, not so much. Nothing, really.

    Y'know, back when I was younger and less cynical I probably would not believe that your liberal-nazi cult would try to actively discredit a fucking prescription drug - only because it's associated with the Orange Ma. Could you imagine that, dear Bob?

    But hey, it's a scientific fact now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Ingraham tattles on The Lancet!"

    What does this mean? The Lancet didn't do anything wrong. It isn't being criticized either.

    Or is this part of the right's general attack on science? Is Somerby joining that attack? Sounds like it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This must have been in featured in Somerby's Right Wing Gripes of the Day email.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Lancet study is really flawed. My bio-statistician wife and I read the whole study as well as the Open Letter, which was signed by 140 health research professionals. You can read the open letter at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_crime_in_the_United_States

    The first flaw listed was obvious to me when I first saw the study. The drug is given to the sickest patients. Naturally, they have the worst results. The paper did not adjust adequately for this.

    Below is the list of concerns, but I recommend reading the entire Open Letter.

    The main concerns are listed as follows:
    1.There was inadequate adjustment for known and measured confounders (disease severity, temporal effects, site effects, dose used).
    2.The authors have not adhered to standard practices in the machine learning and statistics community. They have not released their code or data. There is no data/code sharing and availability statement in the paper. The Lancet was among the many signatories on the Wellcome statementon data sharing for COVID-19 studies.
    3.There was no ethics review.
    4.There was no mention of the countries or hospitals that contributed to the data sourceandno acknowledgments to their contributions.A request to the authors for information on the contributing centres was denied.
    5.Data from Australia are not compatible with government reports (too many cases for just five hospitals, more in-hospital deaths than had occurred in the entire country during the study period). Surgisphere(the data company) have since statedthis was an error of classificationofone hospital from Asia.Thisindicates the need for further error checking throughout the database.
    6.Data from Africa indicate that nearly 25% of all COVID-19 cases and 40% of all deaths in the continent occurred in Surgisphere-associated hospitals which had sophisticated electronic patient data recording, and patient monitoring able to detect and record “nonsustained [at least 6 secs] or sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation”. Both the numbers of cases and deaths, and the detailed data collection, seem unlikely.
    7.Unusually small reported variances in baseline variables, interventions and outcomes between continents(Table S3).
    8.Mean daily doses of hydroxychloroquine that are 100 mg higher than FDA recommendations, whereas 66% of the data are from North American hospitals.
    9.Implausible ratios of chloroquine to hydroxychloroquine use in some continents.
    10.The tight 95% confidence intervals reported for the hazard ratios appear inconsistent with the data. For instance,for the Australiandatathis would need about double the numbers of recorded deaths as were reported in the paper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Lancet study has been withdrawn.

      Authors retract influential study linking hydroxychloroquine to mortality risk for coronavirus patients
      https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/influential-hydroxychloroquine-study-retracted

      Delete
    2. In my opinion, #1 is the only serious flaw. But you use these samples of convenience because they are better than no data at all and can provide a provisional answer to your question -- is it safe and effective to be using this drug. The data suggest caution. Better studies take time and resources not available.

      Delete
  7. Here’s the thing: the original Times story asserted this:

    “The drugs did not help coronavirus patients, and should not be used outside clinical trials, researchers said.”

    Regardless of whether the Lancet study is now being questioned does not alter the fact that all parties involved, researchers and drug makers, still do not recommend that the drug be used outside of clinical trials.

    But that won’t stop the hyenas at Fox from jumping back on the “take it! What do you have to lose” train.

    If it turns out to kill a few people, maybe their survivors can sue the Trump Foundation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mh - It was the authors of the study who made the comment you quote. Since they retracted their study, I think their comment should also be considered to be retracted.

      Note that a great many doctors around the world are prescribing HCQ for corona virus. These health professionals evidently think that the chance of benefit exceeds the chance of harm.

      Delete
    2. No, David.

      “French drugmaker Sanofi said Friday that it was halting patient recruitment in its trials of hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid. The company also said it will stop releasing the drug for off-label use in Covid-19 “until current safety concerns are cleared by WHO.”
      Researchers have said that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine need to be tested against the coronavirus in randomized clinical trials before they can be recommended. Only Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir has been shown to benefit patients by this measure.”

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-29/scientists-question-study-linking-malaria-drugs-to-covid-risks

      Delete
    3. Yes mh, it's controversial. But, my statement above is correct. Many doctors are prescribing it right now.

      Fortunately, a number of proper studies are going on. We should know in a fairly short time whether or not HCQ is safe and effective.

      Delete
    4. You can find someone somewhere prescribing anything. That doesn't make this a safe and effective treatment. This approach is anti-scientific and takes medicine back to the bad old days when treatments were as likely to kill as to cure.

      My daughter, who is a pulmonologist, believes that differences in death rates reflect differences in the ability to manage serious cases of COVID-19. Use of bogus treatments may be one of those differences.

      Delete
    5. You claimed that only the authors of the study said it shouldn’t be used outside of clinical trials. That is false.

      And the whole point of waiting for the trials is to MAKE SURE IT IS SAFE BEFORE PEOPLE ARE NEEDLESSLY SICKENED OR KILLED.

      Delete
    6. mh - The Times article quote came from the authors of the withdrawn study. That's not in the headline, but it is further down in the article.

      I well understand the point of drug studies. My wife did them professionally. The problem is that doctors need to make decisions NOW, before the studies are complete. If a patient is seriously ill with coronavirus, the doctor needs to treat him/her with HCQ or not. The doctor cannot wait for the study's completion. The doctor has to guess whether the drug is more likely to help or to harm.

      Delete
    7. There are existing protocols for treating COVID-19 that do not use HCQ. Doctors should use those because they are best practice. Doctors don't play roulette with their patients. It is unethical.

      Delete
  8. Science is no politicized around Trump. Nice going, lefties.

    ReplyDelete
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  12. "Said Biden: “Do we really think this is as good as we can be as a nation? I don’t think the vast majority of people think that. There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people. But that’s not who we are. The vast majority of people are decent. We have to appeal to that.”

    The only difference between this and Hillary's statement is that she called them deplorables.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hillary is a rosy -eyed optimist, so she said only half the Trump-supporters were "deplorables".

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  13. Fascist traitors is a better description

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