The most absurd Covid-19 research withdrawn from scientific journals

The most absurd Covid-19 research withdrawn from scientific journals

They range from screening with anal swabs to 5g which induces Covid. From traditional Chinese medicine to the sound waves produced by Indian bells that neutralize the virus. Here are some of the most absurd research on Covid withdrawn in the last year

(image: Adobe Stock) With the bulimia of scientific publications on Covid-19 in the last year, even bad science has reached new records. Retraction Watch has already counted 122 scientific papers withdrawn for various reasons, and it is likely that it is not even an exhaustive list given that scientific journals are now multiplying at an uncontrolled speed. Browsing through the Retraction Watch list there is no shortage of truly absurd research, worthy of an honorary IgNobel. What better way to lighten the climate a little bit in recent months, then, if not a little tour of the mad science themed Covid-19? Get comfortable, and let's get started.

Covid and 5G

Let's start with an authentic masterpiece, which boasts two of our compatriots, Massimo Fioranelli and Maria Grazia Roccia, both university professors, among the authors telematics G. Marconi. Masterpiece, we said, because in fact the authors have managed to combine some of the most bizarre scientific statements ever in a single article, to demonstrate that the electromagnetic waves produced by 5G antennas are able to push our cells to generate Sars- Cov-2. Reverberating in the cells, the electromagnetic waves would in fact produce holes inside the DNA, with a three-dimensional structure similar to that of the nitrogenous bases, and the cells would react by filling these holes with new bases of the appropriate shape, which would then join together creating a coronavirus.

A hypothesis, and nothing more, mind you. However, that would explain the genesis of Covid-19 without the need to bring up viruses, infections, bats and other imaginative entities. In spite of Pasteur, and his experiments to demonstrate the impossibility of spontaneous generation, the feared 5G would therefore be able to create a pandemic pathogen like Sars-Cov-2 directly in our cells. The study (or rather editorial, because the authors did not provide experimental evidence for their claims) was withdrawn from the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, and is no longer available online (except here, solely as an abstract).

Anal Pads for Covid

We've heard about them for so long that we now just call them tampons. But there are many ways to collect biological samples, and it is not taken for granted that the nose is the most suitable collection site to maximize the chances of diagnosis. In China, the use of anal swabs has been successfully tried to diagnose positivity to the new coronavirus. Demonstrating that it is an ultra-sensitive methodology, capable of identifying the pathogen even in patients who are now negative for the nasopharyngeal swab.

Researchers from Shandong University, last July, had arrived to propose it as a universal screening to evaluate the discharge of Covid-19 patients, in line with the greater diagnostic precision of this tamponade site. Future Microbiology, the journal that had published the research, however, had no choice, withdrawing the article in April 2021 due to a notable lack: before subjecting their patients to anal swabs, it seems that the authors had forgotten to ask for their informed consent.

Anti Covid Traditional Chinese Medicine

If this were a list of candidates for IgNobel, the next would certainly be among the favorites. It is a research that combines the rejection of the germ theory (i.e. the idea that viruses, bacteria and other pathogens cause infectious diseases), traditional Chinese medicine, physics of matter and geology, to explain Covid- 19 as a disease linked to the effects of the Earth's magnetic field. It is such a complex theory, in its madness, that trying to read the entire paper published, and then withdrawn, by the journal Science of the Total Environment, the sensation is that of a very long supercazzola.

Stando to the statements of one of its authors (and to want to take them seriously, because everything tastes more like a joke than anything else) everything would have originated from a mysterious epidemic that broke out among the rats in his laboratory. A fulminant disease that produced lung damage similar to those observed in e-cigarette smokers, and which made the young American researcher Moses Bility (passionate about integrated biosciences and quantum physics) suspect the involvement of ferrhydrite, an iron oxide present both in the environment and in biological organisms. According to Bility, the effects of the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the minerals present in some parts of the earth's crust would produce magnetic anomalies capable of inducing a reaction between ferrhydrite, the biological molecules that make up our organism, and the viral inserts present in our body. dna. The result would be the symptoms we ascribe today to Covid - 19 and other similar diseases.

An elegant theory, which would seem to explain many of the still mysterious characteristics of this pandemic, not least the fact that the number of victims and contagions in our hemisphere it seems to increase with the arrival of the equinoxes (between March and April), when the Earth's magnetic field would undergo some periodic alterations. To take Bility and colleagues seriously, all experts in infectious diseases and epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, and the American Nih who (perhaps without knowing it) funded the study, this is excellent news. By throwing away a couple of centuries of medical progress, Bility's theory offers an easy and inexpensive solution to defeat the pandemic: by wearing jade medallions, as prescribed by ancient traditional Chinese medicine of the Neolithic, it is possible to shield oneself from the harmful effects of magnetic waves, very effectively preventing the onset of Covid-19. It seems a bit difficult to us.

Let's kill Covid-19 with bells

On March 22 (2020) the Indian Prime Minister invited his many compatriots to express gratitude to the staff on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19 by clapping their hands and ringing Hindu prayer bells (called ghanta) for five minutes exactly at 5pm. Some Indian internet users went further, believing that behind the request of the head of state there was actually a precise strategy of eradicating the disease: the sound waves generated by a billion and a half of hands and bells, combined with a particularly favorable moon phase, they would have destroyed the virus and strengthened the organism, preventing the epidemic.

The hoax has circulated widely in the country, reaching the ears of pharmacologist Dharmendra kumar, of Golgotia University. The scientist saw some good in the proposal, and decided to publish a scientific article about it, entitled Corona Virus Killed by Sound Vibrations Produced by Thali or Ghanti: A Potential Hypothesis, (Coronavirus is killed by the sound vibrations produced by ghanta and dai thali [Indian serving dishes, ed]: a promising hypothesis), in which he explores all the scientific evidence available in favor of the use of sound waves for the prevention and eradication of Sars-Cov-2. The article, published in March in the Journal of Molecular Pharmaceuticals and Regulatory Affairs, was withdrawn on an unknown date.

To which saint to vote?

We conclude with an honorable mention. This is not a withdrawn study, nor is it a poorly done or unscientific research (as far as we know, at least), but the topic can easily snatch a smile: to which saint do believers turn to to defend themselves from this pandemic? Three Italian researchers asked this in a study published in recent weeks in the journal Ethics, Medicine and Public Health. And to find the answer they relied on social networks, with a survey carried out among Facebook and Twitter users, to find out who they would direct their prayers to to combat a Sars-Cov-2 infection.

In first place was Santa Rita, the saint of lost causes, followed by San Rocco and San Sebastiano, two well-known thaumaturgic saints invoked in case of contagious diseases and epidemics. However, there is no shortage of curious presences, such as Saint Didier (San Desiderio) and Saint Rieul, which according to the authors were cited for the similarity of the names with that of Didier Raoult, a well-known French infectious disease specialist who made a lot of talk about himself in the course of this pandemic due to its unconditional endorsement for the use of chloroquine against Covid-19. For an official answer, however, it would have been enough to ask the pope, who a few days after the publication of the study called for a month of prayer to defeat the pandemic, choosing Saint Mary as the recipient of Christianity's pleas. Strategy that, even if it were to prove unsuccessful, should not at least expose the faithful to particular side effects.

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