Making WHO Accountable

Description of the problem: WHO has received user feedback on an elevated risk for false SARS-CoV-2 results when testing specimens using RT-PCR reagents on open systems.

This is from the WHO Information Notice for IVD Users (In Vitro Diagnostic Users), dated 7 December and published online 14 December 2020. That’s almost exactly 11 months after they published the Corman-Drosten paper to guide their diagnostic protocol and about ten days after the Corman-Drosten Review Report was submitted. This update is open to interpretation, does not offer complete or adequate recommendations and is obviously a direct damage control measure without directly addressing the specific concerns of the Review Report. Nevertheless it appears to be a small improvement on prior guidance, including the following previously absent advice: “Therefore, healthcare providers are encouraged to take into consideration testing results along with clinical signs and symptoms, confirmed status of any contacts, etc.“.

The Corman-Drosten Review Report identified multiple serious concerns with this paper including in part:

The Corman-Drosten paper was submitted to Eurosurveillance on January 21st 2020 and accepted for publication on January 22nd 2020. On January 23rd 2020 the paper was online. On January 13th 2020 version 1-0 of the protocol was published at the official WHO website [17], updated on January 17th 2020 as document version 2-1 [18], even before the Corman-Drosten paper was published on January 23rd at Eurosurveillance.

Normally, peer review is a time-consuming process since at least two experts from the field have to critically read and comment on the submitted paper. In our opinion, this paper was not peer-reviewed. Twenty-four hours are simply not enough to carry out a thorough peer review. Our conclusion is supported by the fact that a tremendous number of very serious design flaws were found by us, which make the PCR test completely unsuitable as a diagnostic tool to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Eleven months into this pandemic, the force of multiple collaborations using scientific evidence to challenge fierce opposition has had a small win against the powerful institutions and corporations imposing catastrophic devastation on the world. The courage of these people leaves me in awe.

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