NEJM; Flush it!

The once prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recent publication on July 23, 2020 is misleading to say the least. “Hydroxychloroquine with or without Azithromycin in Mild-to-Moderate Covid-19 from study in Brazil resulted in news reports that this medication was not effective in mild to moderate cases of Covid-19. The news reporter likely read the title and not the manuscript. A reader of the news article would justifiably presume these were early cases of mild to moderated magnitude.
However, the news report read by more people than the manuscript was misleading to say the least. There was no mention about the patient cohort studied in this news publication. The inclusion criteria for the patient population in the NEJM study was a magnitude of infection such that it required hospitalization. Furthermore, some of the hospitalized patient’s conditions were such they required supplemental oxygen. Then the NEJM accepted the hospitalized patient as designated; mild to moderate classification.

I read the news report as mild to moderate condition of the patients studied being early cases. If I read only the NEJM title I would have come to a similar conclusion. The patients studied had mild to moderate condition, presumptively of early onset and not a group reported upon that were so sick they were hospitalized and some on oxygen.

In addition, follow up reports on clinical studies by reputable journals require at least a one to two years. The term of this study was just 15 days before gaining headlines. It is unlikely to find a competing world record short term report published by NEJM citing information to the contrary.

I am not privileged to the NEJM’s publication policies, bias or political agenda. I do not know if the news reporter read beyond the journal headline. I do not know their policies or agenda.
Whatever the reality, this is an all-time low in medical and news journalism. Flush it!

7/26/2020

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