For the record...
The study, led by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston, examined patients in hospitals around the world, including in Australia. It said researchers gained access to data from five hospitals recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of 21 April.
But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April. The data relied upon by researchers to draw their conclusions in the Lancet is not readily available in Australian clinical databases, leading many to ask where it came from.
The federal health department confirmed to Guardian Australia that the data collected on notifications of Covid-19 in the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System was not the source for informing the trial.
Guardian Australia also contacted the health departments of Australia’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, which have had by far the largest number of Covid-19 infections between them. Of the Australian deaths reported by 21 April, 14 were in Victoria and 26 in NSW.
Victoria’s department confirmed the study’s results relating to the Australian data did not reconcile with the state’s coronavirus data, including hospital admissions and deaths. The NSW Department of Health also confirmed it did not provide the researchers with the data for its databases.
The Lancet told Guardian Australia: “We have asked the authors for clarifications, we know that they are investigating urgently, and we await their reply.” The lead author of the study, Dr Mandeep Mehra, said he had contacted Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, to reconcile the discrepancies with “the utmost urgency”. Surgisphere is described as a healthcare data analytics and medical education company.
In a statement, Surgisphere founder Dr Sapan Desai, also an author on the Lancet paper, said a hospital from Asia had accidentally been included in the Australian data.
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“We have reviewed our Surgisphere database and discovered that a new hospital that joined the registry on April 1, and self-designated as belonging to the Australasia continental designation,” the spokesman said. “In reviewing the data from each of the hospitals in the registry, we noted that this hospital had a nearly 100% composition of Asian race and a relatively high use of chloroquine compared to non-use in Australia. This hospital should have more appropriately been assigned to the Asian continental designation.”
He said the error did not change the overall study findings. It did mean that the Australian data in the paper would be revised to four hospitals and 63 deaths,.