Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Conversation logo

Rivals Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin trash-talked each other before the 2016 Olympics, with Bolt calling Gatlin “old man”, and Gatlin calling Bolt “middle aged”. The banter was entertaining but vanished into insignificance when Bolt won. After the race, both athletes shook hands and accepted the result.

Something like trash-talking is happening in the race for a treatment for COVID-19, but – unlike with Bolt and Gatlin’s race, which decided the matter – there is no fair test of the two top contending treatments being conducted. The two competing treatments getting the most press are chloroquine, or its cousin hydroxychloroquine (usually given with an antibiotic), and remdesivir. Like almost all medical treatments, they both have benefits and harms.

Hydroxychloroquine is promoted by world-renowned French virologist Didier Raoult, who looks like a rock star. Remdesivir is being endorsed by Donald Trump’s scientific adviser, Anthony Fauci.

Fauci claimed that Raoult’s treatment may have “no effect”, and Raoult returned the favour by accusing Fauci’s trial of “surprisingly” changing outcomes mid-stream (death rate was initially the primary outcome measure but this was replaced with the time it took patients to recover). Missing from this exchange is a call for a fair head-to-head test of the two treatments.

Read the full article on The Conversation website, written by Jeremy Howick, Director of the Oxford Empathy Programme (Faculty of Philosophy)

Oxford is a subscribing member of The ConversationFind out how you can write for The Conversation.

Similar stories

Communication at the crossroads of the immune system

In his inaugural article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as an NAS member (elected 2021), Prof Mike Dustin and his research team in Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences have explained how messages are passed across the immunological synapse. The research could have implications for future vaccine development and immunotherapy treatments.

Showcase success for Science Together research

A local collaboration teaming researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University with the Urban Music Foundation finished on a high note with an immersive sound and art installation at Oxford’s Old Fire Station.

Oxford spinout trials revolutionary bioelectronic implant to treat incontinence

The first participants in a clinical trial of a bioelectrical therapy to treat incontinence have received their “smart” bioelectronic implants.

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US

A new study led by researchers at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science has found that, between 2021 and 2022, COVID-19 was a leading cause of death in children and young people in the United States, ranking eighth overall. The results demonstrate that pharmaceutical and public health interventions should continue to be applied to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect again severe disease in this age group.

Three or more concussions linked with worse brain function in later life

Experiencing three or more concussions is linked with worsened brain function in later life, according to new research.

New blood test could save lives of heart attack victims

Researchers in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) have developed a blood test that measures stress hormone levels after heart attacks. The test – costing just £10 – could ensure patients receive timely life-saving treatment.