HCPs should examine advantages of social distancing, quarantine effects, hand hygiene

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Wastage of resources in Covid-19 Research
HCPs should examine advantages 
of social distancing, quarantine 
effects, hand hygiene
Benefits of non-pharmacological 
interventions have not been highlighted

ISLAMABAD: Only a very negligible or a few trials currently going on in Covid19 research has taken up the topics of examining social distancing, quarantine effects or hand hygiene. According to reports over one thousand clinical trials were registered on ClinicalTrials.gov website many of them are duplication or have a very small sample size. Most of them are related to find out the effects of various drug interventions with the result that lot of precious resources are being wasted in the name of Covid19 research. It is high time that the researchers should concentrate on highlighting the benefits of non-pharmacological interventions as well.

Yet another disadvantage of too much focusing on Covid19 is the neglect of various other diseases which are equally dangerous leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Most of them have gone into the background and even the biomedical journals are giving too much importance to Covid19 pandemic related manuscripts with the result that researchers who are working on other topics have to wait for too long to get their research published. Biomedical journals all over the world, Pakistan being no exception have published special issues on Covid19 and in most cases, there is very little original research work but it does add to the Covid noise. BMJ in its editorial has pointed out that posting in MedRxiv have increased by 400%. Many of the studies related to Covid19 have received too many citations. About one hundred thirty five studies related to Hydroxychloroquine were registered in ClinicalTrials.gov alone till March 20th 2020.1 Non-drug intervention studies like distancing, hand hygiene, use of masks, tracing and environmental modifications which are considered very useful and effective means of control have not attracted much attention of the researchers.

Now almost everyone has got interested to write about Covid19 pandemic which has also put too much pressure on biomedical journals. Rush to publish these studies without proper peer review has lead to publication of numerous studies which later had to be retracted. The number of items published related to Covid19 are over twenty thousand. Corrections to these articles were published in fifty seven different journals and what is more surprising is the fact that the number of Impact Factor journals publishing these corrections to Covid19 articles was much higher. The median time between article publication and its correction was just twenty two days.2 This large number of corrected articles on Covid-19 reflects haste in publishing. About 9% of these corrections were in fact retractions. This too much pressure to publish is leading to lot of unethical practices which needs to be checked by the editors of biomedical journals who must uphold professional ethics. It is important that since Covid19 pandemic is not going to go away soon, the researchers should adhere to ethical principles ensuring research integrity in their work.

References

  1. Glasziou PP. Waste in Covid-19 research. (Editorial) BMJ 2020; 369:m1847 doi: 10.1136/bmj.m1847 (Published May 12, 2020.
  2. Matas J, Belgian I, Marusic A. Correcting the pandemic: Analysis of corrections to journal articles on COVID-19 and Ebola. (Editorial) www.jogh.org. Dec.2020; 10(2):1-3. Doi: 10.7189/jogh.10.020105
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