Research paper in collaboration with UCSD on COVID-19 called for retraction

In a letter to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists requested that the newspaper retract a paper who allegedly made “falsifiable allegations” about the route of transmission of COVID-19 on June 18. UC San Diego Nobel Laureate Professor Mario Molina and Texas A&M University atmospheric science professor Renyi Zhang co-authored the article and was published on PNAS on June 11. , 2020.

The research article claimed that the spread of COVID-19 was mainly due to airborne transmission. He also argued that face coverings were effective in preventing transmission of the virus and that other mitigation measures such as social distancing were insufficient on their own.

The article proposes three modes of transmission of the virus: direct deposit on people by coughing or sneezing, indirect contact through a surface and the airway via droplets and fine particles. While the number of confirmed infected cases in the United States continued to increase linearly from April 1 to May 9, Molina and Zhang’s analysis found that there was no profound impact of the protections. federal authorities regarding social distancing and quarantine on reducing the spread of the disease.

Since these physical separations were aimed at targeting and minimizing transmission of the virus by direct and indirect deposition, the continued growth of the pandemic has suggested that the primary viral route is airborne transmission.

To further strengthen the case, the team studied the impact of the face covering in all three epicenters, including Wuhan, Italy and New York. They projected a linear regression based on the number of confirmed cases reported before and after the face covering policy was implemented.

The team found that the mandatory face covering significantly reduced the infections expected in Italy and New York. Because the face covering blocked airborne transmission and inhalation of virus-carrying particles, analysis indicated that airborne transmission is the main routine of COVID-19. However, the actual mechanism of the path remains uncertain.

While previous studies of SARS-CoV-1 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus have shown results of airborne transmission in a longer travel distance and longer activity time, the claim of l The article on airborne transmission of COVID-19 has led a group of epidemiology and public health scientists to question the validity of the research.

Dr Noah Haber of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford University and other scientists said they agreed that wearing a mask is important in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the world. letter of request for revocation which arrived one week after the publication of the research paper. However, scientists felt the article was making “dangerously misleading” claims due to flaws in the research design and called for the article to be retracted, especially because of the “disproportionate and immediate public impact. of the article ”.

The letter specifically pointed out six other errors in the research methodology, which can be summarized in three key points: 1) Ignoring the delay between virus transmission and reported infection cases. 2) The policy implementation date is not representative of the various behaviors of the population in response to the pandemic. 3) The analysis using linear regression without statistical uncertainty is not valid for the dynamics of the infection and the comparisons between the three epicenters.

In response to the letter, Molina and Zhang wrote a declaration which rectified the errors mentioned in the withdrawal letter. She claimed that the excerpts from the quoted letter were taken out of context and that the statistical uncertainty of linearity was already expressed in terms of the coefficient of determination R ^ 2 on the graphs.

“As you can see from our letter, we believe [the retraction letter] doesn’t make much sense. Molina wrote in an email to The UCSD Guardian, “We would be happy to discuss the science, answer sensible questions about our article, etc., but the reasoning in the withdrawal letter is clearly not valid. . “

In addition to claiming that the conclusion of the withdrawal letter was invalid, Molina and Zhang, in turn, questioned certain statements contained in the letter. Molina and Zhang submit another document in which they will take a closer look at the state’s measures. At the time of publication of this article, the paper in question has not been withdrawn from the PNAS.

Photo courtesy of Erik Jepsen for UC San Diego Publications.

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