Retraction Watch has alerted us to a “Paper urging use of homeopathy for COVID-19 appears in peer-reviewed public health journal”. The paper in question is readily available on the Internet. Here is its abstract:
Today, humanity is living through the third serious coronavirus outbreak in less than 20 years, following SARS in 2002–2003 and MERS in 2012. While the final cost on human lives and world economy remains unpredictable, the timely identification of a suitable treatment and the development of an effective vaccine remain a significant challenge and will still require time.
The aim of this study is to show that the global collective effort to control the coronavirus pandemic (Covid 19) should also consider alternative therapeutic methods, and national health systems should quickly endorse the validity of proven homeopathic treatments in this war against coronavirus disease.
Subject and methods With the help of mathematics, we will show that the fundamental therapeutic law on which homeopathy is founded can be proved.
Results The mathematical proof of the law of similarity justifies perfectly the use of ultra – high diluted succussed solution products as major tools in the daily practices of homeopathy.
Conclusion It is now time to end prejudice and adopt in this fight against Covid-19 alternative therapeutic techniques and practices that historically have proven effective in corresponding situations.
And the full conclusions from the body of the paper read as follows:
Today, it is imperative that ever-safe medicinal products such as homeopathic ultra – high diluted succussed solutions are tested in this pandemic. Epidemiological research has to be carried out to include homeopathic treatment and compare it to established treatments. Patients should be assigned randomly in two different groups of at least 200–400 individuals, and receive respectively established and homeopathic treatment. The evaluation of the results from both groups could reveal which group has a superior outcome in survival, general health conditions, etc., and to what extent.
If there were a competition for the craziest paper published on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) during 2020, this one would, I am sure, win by some margin! The authors seem to have little idea of the nature of evidence in healthcare or medicine; and they use mathematics like a drunken man uses a lamp-post: not for enlightenment, but for support.
So, who are the authors of this showcase of pseudoscience?
They are D. Kalliantas, M. Kallianta, Ch. S. Karagianni from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering, NTUA, GR15780, Athens, Greece; the National Technical University of Athens, 9 Heroon Polytechniou Str. Zografos Campus, 15780 Athens, Greece; and the School of Dentistry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
The first author has previously published weird stuff including a self-published book: Kalliantas D (2008) The Chaos theory of disease. Kallianta A Publications, Eleusis, Greece. On Medline, I also found this paper by two of the three authors:
Trituration is a mechanical process (a form of comminution) for reducing the particle size of a substance. In this manuscript, six different Raw Solid Materials (RSM) which are used in Homeopathy after successive grindings are studied before they are turned into homeopathic solutions. The impact of trituration, with the presence of α‑lactose monohydrate (milk sugar) seems to be quite great and interesting because of the variety of grain size which largely differentiate the properties of the materials. The grain sizes obtained triturations by hand according to C. Herring’s suggestion leads, finally, measurement scale dimensions. The obtained results can be useful information for all the pharmacy industries, as well as for preparing any kind of powder.
Sadly, this renders my suspicion unlikely that the new article is a hoax in which some pranksters were trying to show that any odd nonsense can pass the peer-review of a scientific journal.
And which journal would publish a paper that looks like a hoax but is none? It is the Journal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice (Springer). On the website, the journal tells us that:
The Journal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice is an interdisciplinary publication for the discussion and debate of international public health issues, with a focus on European affairs. It describes the social and individual factors determining the basic conditions of public health, analyzing causal interrelations, and offering a scientifically sound rationale for personal, social and political measures of intervention. Coverage includes contributions from epidemiology, health economics, environmental health, management, social sciences, ethics, and law.
- An interdisciplinary publication for the discussion and debate of international public health issues
- Includes contributions from epidemiology, health economics, environmental health, management, social sciences, ethics, and law
- Offers a scientifically sound rationale for personal, social and political measures of intervention
- 94% of authors who answered a survey reported that they would definitely publish or probably publish in the journal again.
The twice mentioned term SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND does not quite ring true in the present instance, does it?