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Coffee as a medical treatment for Covid-19

Is coffee an effective medicine to deal with Covid-19? A large team of researchers in France and the UK explore whether that question—the question, not the coffee—is a good way to get people thinking about:

  1. how difficult it can be to find an effective treatment for any problem, and
  2. how easy it can be to produce unreliable, shoddy answers, and
  3. how easy it can be to pay attention to unreliable, shoddy answers

The study is: “Why Methodology Is Important: Coffee as a Candidate Treatment for COVID-19,” Yaniss Belaroussi, Paul Roblot, Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, Thomas Delaye, Simone Mathoulin-Pelissier, Joffrey Lemeux, Gwenaël Le Moal, Eric Caumes, France Roblot, and Alexandre Bleibtreu, Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 9, no. 11, 2020, 36912020.

The abstract begins:

Background: During this pandemic situation, some studies have led to hasty conclusions about Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19) treatment, due to a lack of methodology. This pedagogic study aimed to highlight potential biases in research on COVID-19 treatment.

Methods: We evaluate the effect of coffee’s active part, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (TMX) on patients with COVID-19. A cohort of 93 patients, with a diagnosis of COVID-19 is analyzed.

The authors proceed to do an intentionally sloppy, bad piece of not-even-research. Having lured the audience in with their implicit offer of coffee, they then serve up an unappetizing but valuable hot gulp:

Conclusions: Multiple biases prevents us from concluding to an effect of coffee on COVID-19. Despite an important social pressure during this crisis, methodology and conscientiousness are the best way to avoid hasty conclusions that can be deleterious for patients.

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