Bik And Raoult Hydroxychloroquine Feud Exposes Tensions

Until spring 2020, Raoult was once perfect referred to as an eminent microbiologist who based and heads the analysis sanatorium Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, or IHU. He has came upon or codiscovered dozens of recent micro organism — a gaggle of them are named Raoultella — in addition to massive viruses. By many accounts, his intensive achieve within the medical neighborhood is matched by means of his mood: In 2012, Science mag described him as “imaginative, rebellious, and often disdainful.” “He can make life hard for you,” one researcher stated.

A handful of Raoult’s 1000’s of publications have additionally fallen underneath scrutiny. In 2006, the American Society for Microbiology banned him and 4 coauthors from its journals for a yr over a “misrepresentation of data” after a reviewer noticed figures that had been an identical, however shouldn’t had been, throughout two variations of a submitted manuscript. (Raoult objected to the ban, announcing he wasn’t at fault.) And some researchers spotted that Raoult was once on one-third of all papers to ever seem in one magazine, which was once staffed by means of a few of his collaborators.

Last yr, Raoult’s crew issued a correction to a 2018 learn about, and any other from 2013 was once retracted altogether (the magazine stated that Raoult may just no longer be reached when it was once making its determination). Both contained it seems that duplicated or in a different way suspect photographs, first noticed by means of Bik, who has flagged greater than 60 different research of his on PubPeer for possible problems.

And by means of July of remaining yr, his maximum notorious learn about were regarded over by means of much more out of doors professionals commissioned by means of the magazine’s publishers. The scientists didn’t grasp again. “Gross methodological shortcomings,” “non-informative,” and “fully irresponsible,” one stated. Another workforce stated it “raised a lot of attention and contributed to a demand for the drug without the appropriate evidence.”

Despite acknowledging those flaws, the leaders of the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, which publishes the magazine at the side of Elsevier, opted to not retract the learn about. “We believe, in addition to the importance of sharing observational data at the height of a pandemic, a robust public scientific debate about the paper’s findings in an open and transparent fashion should be made available,” they stated. Around the similar time, a gaggle of 500 French infectious illness professionals filed a grievance with native well being officers, accusing Raoult of spreading incorrect information about hydroxychloroquine.

Raoult defended his “seminal work,” arguing that the decision for a retraction had “no justification other than the opinion of people who were fiercely hostile to” hydroxychloroquine. At a French Senate listening to that September, he as soon as once more downplayed criticisms of his analysis. Bik had “managed to find five errors in a total of 3,500 articles,” he stated, whilst acknowledging that there have been doubtlessly a small choice of different mistakes as neatly. He denied ever committing fraud.

At the Senate listening to, Raoult referred to as Bik a time period that interprets to “head hunter,” a “girl” who were “stalking” him since he was once “famous.” And round Thanksgiving, biologist Eric Chabrière, a widespread collaborator of Raoult’s and a coauthor of the hydroxychloroquine learn about, tweeted that Bik “harasses” and “tries to denigrate” Raoult.

He invoked her previous employment at uBiome, a microbiome-testing startup that the FBI raided in 2019. (Bik, who was once medical editorial director there till the top of 2018, has stated that she was once by no means wondered and was once no longer concerned within the founders’ alleged scheme to defraud insurers and buyers.) Chabrière additionally accused her of being paid by means of the pharmaceutical business.

“I am not sponsored by any company, but you can sponsor me at @Patreon,” Bik tweeted again, linking to her account. As she defined to Chabrière, she could also be a specialist to universities and publishers who need suspicious papers investigated.

“Happy to investigate any papers of your institute, too, as long as you pay me :-),” she added.

Over the next months, Chabrière would name her “a real dung beetle,” “a mercenary who only obeys money,” and an individual “paid to attack and discredit certain targets.” His supporters piled on, every so often with obscure threats. Meanwhile, Raoult referred to as her a “crazy woman” and a “failed researcher” of “medium intelligence.”

Then, on April 30 of this yr, Chabrière tweeted a screenshot of a prison grievance allegedly filed with a public prosecutor in France. It accused her and Barbour, the PubPeer co-organizer, of “moral harassment,” “attempted blackmail,” and “attempted extortion.” Her house deal with was once indexed. The tweet was once later deleted.

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