Skip to main content

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

Dr Sapan Desai
By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.
The paper, published on May 22, co-authored by Dr Desai with Dr Prof Mandeep R Mehra (first author), Prof Frank Ruschitzka and Amit N Patel, puts to question the drug’s efficacy in the fight against Covid-19, suggesting it has an adverse impact on patients. The data released in the paper are  considered a major reason why the World Health Organization (WHO) and research institutes around the world decided to halt the drug’s trials.
The controversy around Dr Desai is found reflected in an investigation in “The Guardian”, which states, a tiny US company, Surgisphere, headed by Dr Desai, was “behind flawed data” leading WHO and governments to change their health policy vis-a-vis the Trump-touted “wonder drug”. WHO, however, announced resumption of the drug’s global trial following its data safety monitoring committee found there was “no increased risk of death” from the drug.
While Dr Desai’s India connection isn’t easily available, Enacademic.com, a site having links to reference materials/dictionaries and encyclopedias, does notes his Gujarat connection: That he is “the founder and Director of the New India Charity Endeavor (NICE), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization", which funded an NGO that "dedicated to improving the lives of the impoverished in the state of Gujarat, India.”
While no information is available on the NGO site on or about Dr Desai’s India connection, Enacademic.com is apparently the only spot where it is suggested that, through NICE, Desai, during his student days may have “worked with scientists, engineers, physicians, and politicians in India to improve the quality of life of the most under-represented groups of people in India.”
“The construction of an irrigation system, shared water supply, and shelters for more than 300 people was completed in 2002. The construction of a modern library with computer and satellite access was completed in 2005”, claims Enacademic.com, adding, there were also plans to build a modern hospital “serving the most needy.”
The NGO site's opening page
An effort to enter into the NGO site (http://www.desaifoundation.com/), however, was a non-starter. On being opened, it states, “Oops This Page Could Not be Found!”, though further clicks takes one to medical activities of Surgisphere, though there is no information on India. The site has Surgisphere logo on the top left, and its design is similar to that of Surgisphere. As for NICE, it does not seem to have a web presence. The NGO site says at the bottom "Copyright © 2007 - 2020 Surgisphere Corporation." Dr Desai, presumably, abandoned his NGO activity in Gujarat.
Born in 1979, Dr Desai, who speaks in Spanish, Gujarati and English, appears to have had a chequered academic career. MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, CLSSMBB, and currently CEO of the Surgisphere Corporation, he obtained his MD and PhD in anatomy and cell biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, MBA in healthcare management from the Western Governors University, and completed his general surgery training at Duke University, where he was faculty in 2011-2014.
The Guardian says, the tiny US company of Dr Desai was behind flawed data leading WHO and governments to change their health policy
“The Guardian” investigation, referring to the “Lancet” study, says, “The US-based company Surgisphere, whose handful of employees appear to include a science fiction writer and an adult-content model, has provided data for multiple studies on Covid-19 co-authored by its chief executive (Dr Desai), but has so far failed to adequately explain its data or methodology.”
Making serious allegations against Dr Desai and the firm he heads, “The Guardian” claims, “A search of publicly available material suggests several of Surgisphere’s employees have little or no data or scientific background. An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess.”
“The Guardian” continues, “The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday (June 3)... While Surgisphere claims to run one of the largest and fastest hospital databases in the world, it has almost no online presence. Its Twitter handle has fewer than 170 followers, with no posts between October 2017 and March 2020.”
It adds, “Until Monday (June 1), the ‘get in touch’ link on Surgisphere’s homepage redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, raising questions about how hospitals could easily contact the company to join its database.”
“The Guardian” says, “Desai has been named in three medical malpractice suits, unrelated to the Surgisphere database. In an interview with the 'Scientist', Desai previously described the allegations as “unfounded”. In 2008, Desai launched a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo promoting a wearable ‘next generation human augmentation device that can help you achieve what you never thought was possible’. The device never came to fruition.”
Lancet editor Rchard Horton
“The Guardian” states, “An examination of Desai’s background found that the vascular surgeon has been named in three medical malpractice suits in the US, two of them filed in November 2019. In one case, a lawsuit filed by a patient, Joseph Vitagliano, accused Desai and Northwest Community Hospital in Illinois, where he worked until recently, of being ‘careless and negligent’, leading to permanent damage following surgery.”
After WHO decided to reverse its decision on hydroxychloroquine, “Desai’s Wikipedia page has been deleted following questions about Surgisphere and his history, first raised in 2010”, “The Guardian says. Meanwhile, “Lancet” editor Richard Horton has been quoted as saying, “Given the questions raised about the reliability of the data gathered by Surgisphere, we have issued an Expression of Concern, pending further investigation.”
“An independent data audit is currently underway and we trust that this review, which should be completed within the next week, will tell us more about the status of the findings reported in the paper by Mandeep Mehra and colleagues”, adds Horton.

Comments

OEHNI said…
The article gives good information. Lancet has retracted the paper published by it
Indian have brains but they are often misused. That said, it is not right to fool around with serious concerns specially in such times as at present.

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people. 

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.