Does covid cause brain damage?

The latest in the long succession of attempts at maximizing people’s fear of covid is the claim that it causes brain damage. And not just in those who have spent time in the ICU, in everyone, even if all they had was a mild cold. The claim is currently doing the rounds on social media (apparently alarmist propaganda only counts as misinformation if it’s going … Read more

Do drug trials underestimate side effects?

One commonly used trick in drug trials is to exclude any group that might make the drug look worse, such as those that are more likely to experience side effects. A good recent example of this is the covid vaccine trials, which largely excluded people with auto-immune diseases (more likely to develop an auto-immune disease after vaccination), people with allergies (more likely to have an … Read more

Are regular health checks good for you?

Regular health checks (a.k.a routine visits) are probably the bane of many a primary care physician’s existence. I can’t imagine many things more boring than running through a standardized list of questions with a patient who feels absolutely fine, then going through a list of lab values that are almost invariably within the normal reference range, and finally topping it off with a perfunctory physical … Read more

How well do doctors understand probability?

I’m very interested in how doctors think. How do we use the information gained from talking to and examining a patient to reach a reasonable list of likely diagnoses (a so called “differential”)? When we order a test, what specifically are we looking for, and how will we react to the result that comes back? More cynically, I’m curious about the extent to which we … Read more

How to understand scientific studies (in health and medicine)

Considering how much misinformation is currently floating around in the area of health and medicine, I thought it might be useful to write an article about how to read and understand scientific studies, so that you can feel comfortable looking at first hand data yourselves and making your own minds up.

Ethical principles

Anyone can carry out a study. There is no legal or formal … Read more

Does hydroxychloroquine have a role in treating covid-19?

Several people have contacted me over the last few weeks asking for my opinions on hydroxychloroquine. I’ve invariably answered that I don’t know, since I haven’t looked at the data myself. I felt that it was time to rectify that situation.

As many people know, hydroxychloroquine is an old drug that has existed since the 1950s and that is primarily used to treat malaria and … Read more