The Journal of Brouhaha

The Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (JBRHA) is a puzzling scientific journal. It published the now-withdrawn bizarre paper on 5G and Coronavirus that caused a lot of commotion (“brouhaha“, meaning commotion or uproar). It is indexed in PubMed, giving it the appearance of a true, National Library of Medicine-approved scientific journal. But the editorial board consists mainly of dead people, the Editor in Chief’s affiliations are unclear, and the content of the journal is mainly empty. We might as well call it the JBRouHAha.

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A Dermatology journal issue that might make your skin crawl

A group of authors has found a way to crank up the number of papers on their resumes. The complete “Global Dermatology” September 30, 2019 issue of the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences is filled with papers from the same group of authors, headed by Torello Lotti and Massimo Fioranelli, both from the University of G. Marconi in Rome, Italy.

Some of these papers contain photos of patients without consent, others contain duplicated images, and some papers are full of extraordinary claims without any evidence. Just a bunch of pretty diagrams.

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Worst paper of 2020? 5G and Coronavirus induction

This paper made my jaw drop:

5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells – M Fioranelli et al. – J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 2020 Jul 16;34(4). doi: 10.23812/20-269-E-4 [archivedPDF]

The paper suggests that 5G waves (the latest cell phone technology) can spontaneously generate Coronaviruses in skin cells. Yet, there is nothing in this article that proves this extraordinary claim. It is absolute nonsense.

Combining two hot topics into one title, this article is surely asking for some attention. Attention it will get. Because it is one of the worst scientific papers I have seen this year.

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SARS-CoV-2 in Barcelona sewers

A parody (modified image; yes, I occasionally photoshop as well!) I made based on the cover of Stephen King’s novel “It”, about a monster lurking in New England sewers. Not meant as copyright infringement. You can buy the book here.

A quick post based on a Twitter thread I did this afternoon.

Several people asked me to say something about a rather fantastical finding, that SARS-CoV-2 might already have been lurking in Barcelona sewers in March 2019, a year before the first COVID-19 case was reported in Spain.

It was reported by a group from University of Barcelona and posted as a non-peer reviewed preprint on MedRxiv on June 13.

With fantastic claims should come fantastic data. That is not the case here.

Let’s dive into the Barcelona sewers to find out the details.

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Amazing rates

The IHU Mediterranee Infection, the Marseille hospital that claims that hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin treatment will cure almost everyone infected with COVID-19 has been reporting very low death rates for COVID-19 patients. As of today, their website reports that the IHU has a much lower death – 1.7% – than the worldwide COVID-19 mortality rate of 6.2%.

While that might look amazing at first glance, these numbers are not surprising, given the high numbers of virus tests that the institute has been performing. Let’s take a closer look at their testing to better understand how the Marseille hospital can get such low mortality rate numbers.

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ISAC shares concerns about the Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin paper

The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC) has shared concerns about the Gautret et al. paper published in its own journal. This paper, published under senior authorship of Didier Raoult from the IHU-Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, describes a small study that showed remarkable effects of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin treatment in COVID-19 patients.

After world leaders and politicians started to tweet and endorse this study, many people pressured health officials to start treating COVID-19 patients with this regime, although the study was small and not yet confirmed by independent, larger, and better randomized other studies.

Several scientists and medical professionals, including myself, had concerns about how patients were assigned to each treatment group, how PCR results were reported, why patients with a poor outcome had been left out of the final results, and how this treatment could potentially result in serious side effects. I wrote about my concerns in this blogpost and on PubPeer.

Now, ISAC, who is overseeing the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, the journal that published this study, has joined in those concerns.

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An observational study without a control group

This blog post is based on a Twitter thread I did on March 27, 2020, after seeing Mathieu Rebeaud’s Tweet about a new white paper from the institute of Didier Raoult. That not-yet peer reviewed paper describes a group of 80 COVID-19 patients, all treated with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. This treatment had shown some promising results in a very small, not well-executed study by the same group. Unfortunately, this second study does not have a control group and the patients did not appear to be very sick. So here is my critical review.

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Some critical notes on a COVID-19 TCM paper

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has led to an enormous amount of preprints and rapidly-approved papers of variable quality. A recently published paper in Pharmacological Research called “Traditional Chinese Medicine for COVID-19 Treatment” caught my eye. The title suggested that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be used to treat patients that had fallen ill with the viral disease, but a quick read showed that the paper promised much more than it delivered. Here is a critical review.

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Photoshop as a management modality

On Twitter, @DrVanDamme pointed me to a paper in published in July 2019 in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, a journal of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (IAOMS).

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