Orwellian Science During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Let us call Orwellian Science that in which the research or reports state an opposite or disconnected conclusion with respect to the reported data.

Orwellian Published Science

  • June 16, 2020 - Lyu and Wehby in Health Affairs: Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US1)
    • The use of face masks is judged in this study according to negativity of the second derivative of the infection curve (which necessarily goes negative) during a brief period during the first wave of the pandemic in the U.S. which first reached different geographies at different times.2)
    • Commentors at the published study noted other problems.
  • Aug, 2021 - Yeh and Contreras (preprint): Full vaccination against COVID-19 suppresses SARS-CoV-2 delta variant and spike gene mutation frequencies and generates purifying selection pressure3)
    • The data in the paper shows exactly the opposite of the title and conclusion claims.4)
    • The tweets saved to the preprint are a sad, but entertaining historical record of doctors and scientists uncritically tweeting out the paper to their subscribers.
  • Aug 18, 2021 - Li et al in Clinical Infectious Diseases: Intravenous Injection of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) mRNA Vaccine Can Induce Acute Myopericarditis in Mouse Model5)
    • The descriptions of the data often didn't match the data, they downplayed the harms of intramuscular injection of the Pfizer vaccine in the mice, some of the most important data was in the supplementary material, the scales in some of the charts were messed to downplay results that were inconvenient to the narrative that “intramuscular injection of the vaccine was ok/safe.” More here: We’ve missed the real story with this paper on the Pfizer vax
  • December 14, 2021 - Patone et al. A paper published by University of Oxford researchers purported to show that myocarditis was a worse risk for persons who suffered from COVID-19 than those who received vaccines.6) However, the study is problematic on several levels because
    • The study did not even include a cohort that was not vaccinated.
    • Cases not diagnosed in a narrow window were excluded from calculations.
    • No correction was made for the probability of a symptomatic COVID-19 infection.
    • Study authors noted numerous meaningful conflicts of interest.
  • December 27, 2021 - Frederik Plesner Lyngse et al in medRxiv Preprint 7): SARS-CoV-2 Omicron VOC Transmission in Danish Households
    • The abstract and conclusion indicate that vaccination and boosters provide some protection against household transmission. However, all mention of transmission data and rates in the entire paper (including charts) refer to combined Delta and Omicron variant data. There is only one comment in the entire paper that refers to secondary attack rates of the vaccinated vs the unvaccinated separated by variant and it states: “Unvaccinated potential secondary cases experienced similar attack rates in households with the Omicron VOC and the Delta VOC (29% and 28%, respectively), while fully vaccinated individuals experienced secondary attack rates of 32% in household with the Omicron VOC and 19% in households with the Delta VOC. For booster-vaccinated individuals, Omicron was associated with a SAR of 25%, while the corresponding estimate for Delta was only 11%.”
    • This statement reveals that there is a higher Omicron secondary attack rate in the fully vaccinated (2 doses) households and near identical Omicron secondary attack rate in boosted households and unvaccinated households.
    • If one simply reads the abstract and the conclusion/discussion, this important point, specific to Omicron, would be missed.
    • It is interesting that the authors comment mainly on vaccinated vs unvaccinated transmission data using Delta and Omicron data combined when the title of the paper mentions nothing about the Delta variant.
  • April 25, 2022 - Impact of population mixing between vaccinated and unvaccinated subpopulations on infectious disease dynamics: implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission8)
Lyu and Wehby | June 16, 2020 | Health Affairs | doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00818
Oct 4, 2021 | MedRxiv | 10.1101/2021.08.08.21261768v3
April 25, 2022 | David N. Fisman et al | Canadian Medical Association Journal | Impact of population mixing between vaccinated and unvaccinated subpopulations on infectious disease dynamics: implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.212105