A study that touted phototherapy as a way to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has been retracted after Elisabeth Bik noted a litany of concerns about the article, from duplications in the figures to the authors’ failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
The article, “Methylene blue photochemical treatment as a reliable SARS-CoV-2 plasma virus inactivation method for blood safety and convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19,” appeared in mid-April in BMC Infectious Diseases, a Springer Nature title. The authors listed affiliations with various institutions in China, including a company called Boxin (Beijing) Biotechnology Development LTD, which helped fund the study — more on that in a moment.
According to the paper, methylene blue (a versatile medical product that serves as a drug and a dye) when used with something called the “BX-1 AIDS treatment instrument,” could be a wonder therapy for the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Apparently in response to Bik, the journal issued an editor’s note on May 6 stating: Readers are alerted that concerns have been raised regarding the reliability of this article.
Now the article has been retracted, with the following statement:
— The Light 0 min panel for Virus Control appears to partially overlap with the Light 0 min panel for 1uM MB No light.
— The Light 0 min panel for 1um MB No light appears to partially overlap with the Light 40 Min panel of the same row, and partially overlap with the Light 0 Min panel for No MB.
— In addition, the authors Bin Yu, Jie Zhang, Hao Wu, Xipeng Zhou and Miao Jiang did not appropriately declare a competing interest regarding their affiliation with Boxin (Beijing) Biotechnology Development LTD and its product ‘BX-1 AIDS treatment instrument’ as described in this article.
Finally the journal wrote – The editor no longer has confidence in the reliability of the data reported in the article.