Dr. John Ioannidis went viral a few weeks ago when he took to prestigious publications and news channels to share the results of his study which suggests that most Americans are at minimal risk for getting sick or even dying from the Coronavirus.
But Ioannidis and his team failed to inform the public that the controversial study– which went against every policy being instituted in governments across the nation and world– received partial funding from David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue Airways and a vocal proponent of the idea that the pandemic isn’t deadly enough to justify continued lockdowns.
John Ioannidis is a professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University. He argued in writing and in the media that the fatality rate of COVID-19 may be much lower than initially feared — and that, as a result, current public health restrictions could be overly strict.
Many on the right who have protested against government lockdown measures made Ioannidis’ quotes into posters and carried them at protests. The posters cite his study’s results as proof.
But a complaint filed with Stanford University and first published by BuzzFeed News revealed information that wasn’t made public with the results of the study.
Although claiming to not have contact with the study’s donor, the whistleblower complaint included dozens of emails from an exchange between donors and researchers.
Ioannidis told BuzzFeed news that he did not know how much the study cost. He said that the funding came from “an anonymized pool” of financial gifts given to Stanford’s Office of Development.
“This form of funding is the most unconflicted type of funding process to do research,” Ioannidis said. “It secures perfect intellectual and scientific independence of the study.”
Asked if Neeleman donated to the study, Ioannidis said he was “not personally aware” if he did, according to the BuzzFeed News report.
But the complaint cites dozens of emails, including exchanges with the airline executive, from when the study was being conducted. Neeleman said that the authors did know that he had partially funded the study.
But the whistleblower didn’t just mention a conflict of interest in his complaint. He added more.
Prior to this controversy, Ioannidis had earned a reputation for rooting out false scientific studies and advocating for truthful science. But the complaint alleges that Ioannides’s study was “rife with some of the pitfalls Ioannidis has famously lambasted.”
Many scientists criticized the initial study as well as Ioannidis’ early assertions that there wasn’t enough data to justify long-term social distancing and lockdowns.
Other experts pointed out problems in the study, raising concerns about statistical errors, possible problems with a COVID-19 test kit and a poor-quality sampling technique.
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