What follows is a picture of what happened, including names, faces and finance, with regard to one critical research paper. By sheer chance, we learned this paper was altered by ‘a very powerful lobby.’ We got lucky on this study, but we can be 100% certain this is not the only time.
The pharmaceutical lobby has an annual budget somewhere in the region of $6 billion. I have a substack and a barely functioning microphone. We are outgunned and outnumbered. It’s a miracle that we know anything about this at all.
I’ve pieced together these events so that we can have some additional detail on this one example of a lobby nudging a research paper in their favour. But here’s the kicker, this is just the tip of the iceberg. ‘‘The influence of the pharmaceutical industry is enormous and out of control” - not my words, but The Lancet describing the conclusions of the UK Government.
Ivermectin Part 3: The People Behind the Curtain
Somewhere around the 19th of January, Dr Andew Hill’s paper started to appear on pre-print servers. Checking every possible link, I discovered there were at least two versions.
It was emailed to Dr Tess Lawrie before the other two versions appeared on pre-print servers. It’s called ‘Ivermectin meta-analysis Jan 14SUBPDF’ and to my knowledge, it isn’t on the internet at all. We can reasonably assume it was made on the 14th of January, before the widely distributed ‘v1_covered’ version which appeared on January 19th.
What’s important to remember is that the 14th of January version was never posted to the internet.
With raw material to examine, I focused first on the accusation. Dr Kory was of the view that ‘something’ happened to the paper. In ‘the Hill video’ Dr Lawrie asked ‘who are these other voices that are in your paper that are not acknowledged?’ Hill admitted ‘the people there’, at Unitaid, have a say in the conclusions of the paper. What the ‘Hill video’ tells us, with a high degree of confidence, is that there are unattributed ‘voices’ in this critical research paper on an effective therapeutic for COVID.
Did they write the whole paper perhaps? Or did they try to weaken it? Hill said they had a say in the conclusions of the paper, so it would be fair to assume that their strategy was to weaken it, not to write the whole thing. With that in mind, I started to see if there was any evidence that might support that claim.
I compared the many different versions of the paper and found only minor differences. The discovery of the ‘14th of January’ paper turned out to be crucial: when I compared it to the ‘v1_covered’, I found a treasure trove of alterations. ‘Preliminary’ was added to the title, and in the funding, ‘Unrestricted research grant provided by Unitaid’ was removed. Something did happen to the paper between the 14th and the 19th of January. But the changes didn’t stop there…
One strange thing about the 19th of January paper were the ‘limitations’ detailed in the introduction section. Pierre Kory noted it the moment he read the paper: it’s an unusual practice to put a limitations section right up there with your very interesting findings. Comparing the papers reveals that these ‘limitations’ were indeed inserted between January 14th and January 19th.
An emboldened discussion section was added, and in it, a new sentence was inserted: "Furthermore, there was a wide variation in standards of care across trials, and ivermectin dose and duration of treatment was heterogeneous." Notice the slight mangling of the grammar. We’ll come back to that. What you’re looking at below is the paper in transition, January 14th on the left, January 19th on the right.
There were examples like this throughout the paper so let’s examine another major change. An additional ‘limitation’ sentence was added on page 7: “Limitations of current analysis is important as it is being performed with secondary data from a wide variety of different trials in many different parts of the world with designs that were not originally meant to be compatible. Further refined analysis, including direct data examination, are warranted." Again, notice the slightly mangled grammar along with the same pattern: the inserted sentences weaken the paper. It's also superfluous because combining studies ‘not originally meant to be compatible’ is the entire purpose of this exact meta-analysis.
This particular addition is doubly important because it just so happens to be a sentence that caught the eye of Lynden Alexander, an expert in forensic communications. Lynden had been asked to take a look at the January 19th version by Bons Sens. He did a great job. Using the tiniest of details from the grammar he figured out that some of the paper’s sentences were inserted after the fact. He had identified this exact sentence as one which had likely been inserted. He wasn’t aware of the existence of the January 14th paper when he compiled his report, so he couldn’t have known as I did. But wouldn’t you know it, when we compare the two papers it’s crystal clear: the sentence he identified was indeed added between the 14th and the 19th of January. Lynden Alexander was totally correct. So what else did he find?
He noted that the language of those insertions was different to the rest of the paper. The verb conjugations were ‘off’, but they were impeccable everywhere else. He concluded there were at least two voices within the paper: one was a native English speaker, and the other was not.
Now we are getting somewhere. A non-native English speaker, inserting sentences, apparently designed to weaken the paper, between the 14th and 19th of January. So who could that be?
Not mentioned in the published transcript from ‘the Hill video’, Hill makes an off the cuff reference to a person he had been working with…