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

Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

'Massive concern for people': Modi seeking to turn India into global manufacturing hub

By Shankar Sharma*  The news item quoting Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, "Want to turn India into a manufacturing hub: PM Modi at SCO Summit" should be of massive concern to our people. One can only continue to be shocked by such policies, which can be termed as ill-conceived to say the least. Without objectively considering the environmental and social impacts on our communities in the medium to long term, such policies will also result in massive economic impacts because a lack of environmental and social perspective cannot be economically attractive either. In order to become the global manufacturing hub, India will have to meet an enormous demand for energy of various kinds, and in order to meet this much energy demand the economy has to manufacture enormous number of appliances/ gadgets/ machineries (to generate and distribute commercial forms of energy such as coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, and renewable energy (RE) sources such as so

Denying dissent democratic space in Gujarat: 'sad narrative of eroding ethical values'

By Sandeep Pandey*  A padyatra (foot march) was to be taken out between 26 September and 4 October, 2022 from Randhikpur village in Dahod district of Gujarat to Ahmedabad to apologise to Bilkis Bano. Randhikpur is Bilkis Bano’s village. In 2002 Gujarat communal violence she was gang raped, her 3 years old daughter, another child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 people were convicted and sentenced for life in 2008. However, on 15 August, 2022 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech from Red Fort appealing to people to change their attitude towards women and treat them with respect, a district level committee of Panchmahal decided to release the 11 rapists and murderers. A Bhartiya Janata Party leader described four of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins. Before the padyatra could begin from Randhikpur, on 25 September night, 7 activists were picked up from Godhra corporator Hanif Kalandar’s house where they had gone for d

Pesticide companies' lobbying 'seriously impairing' basics of governance, regulation

Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi*  The Indian agricultural sector is grappling with low incomes, shortage of natural resources, increasing pest incidence and low public investments in research and extension. Pest attacks are increasing. Previously unknown pests are attacking crops. Farmers, indebted as they are due to various market mechanisms, are finding it hard to protect their crop investments. Thus, farmers are pushed into the conundrum of pesticide usage by pesticide markets and companies. Pesticide usage in India is increasingly becoming a regulatory problem. Regulation has not been effective in the face of such challenges. Scientific expertise on pesticides is often subsumed in the policy tradeoffs that, in the ultimate scenario, encourage production and marketing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Expert Committee reports, which are recommending withdrawal of certain HHPs, are not being acted upon. Lobbying by pesticide companies has seriously impaired the basics of governance an

Kerala health bill public hearing? Here the minister 'ensured' cameras were turned off

By Our Representative  On Friday, September 30, 2022, about 100 members of the general public gathered at the conference room of the collectorate at Ernakulam, Kerala, to express their apprehensions about the Kerala Public Health Bill, 2021, which the state assembly referred to a 15-member select committee chaired by state health and family welfare minister, Veena George. Minister Veena George asserted at the outset that this was a sitting of the select committee, and all cameras would need to be turned off. Advocate PA Pouran, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Kerala, stood up in protest, arguing that the meeting was a public hearing and should ideally be televised to reach vast numbers of people. Other members of the audience protested too, but the minister insisted that the gathering was part of a sitting of the select committee.  “Why then did you invite all of us?” protested George Mathew, who had arrived from Aluva and earlier served as a member of t

How Gandhian values have become 'casualty' in India under majoritarian BJP rule

By Sandeep Pandey*  A Muslim youth was beaten recently when he tried to witness the famous garba performance during the Hindu religious nine days festival of Navratri in Gujarat. There was a time when Muslims could easily participate in Garbha events in an atmosphere of cordiality. Bilkis Bano was gang raped in 2002 Gujarat communal violence, her 3 years old daughter, the child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 accused were awarded life term. However, recently a District level committee has decided to release all the culprits. A ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader has described some of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins, the highest among the Hindu hierarchical caste system. In a communally polarized Gujarat today most Muslims feel offended by the decision of the government and BJP supporters either justify the release of rapists and murderers or just ignore the ignominious decision. Mahatma Gandhi came from the Guj

GoI 'feeling threatened' by forces which can potentially fight 'Brahmanical fascism'

Counterview Desk  A network of civil rights and people’s organisations , Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, has characterised the recently-imposed ban on Popular Front of India (PFI), National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and other organisations as “Brahmanical Hindutva fascist” move of the Government of India (GoI), calling it “onslaught on democratic dissent”. In a statement, CASR said, the move is aimed at terrorizing and vilifying the Muslim community, adding, at the same time, the GoI is curbing any protest and demonstration against the “fascist diktat of ban”, with peoplebeing “detained and arrested.” It added, “This kind of attack on right to oppose or criticize any step of government should be conceived as an attack on the very democratic values of the people.” Text : On 28 September 2022, Central Government led by BJP-RSS banned the Popular Front of India, National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, Campus Front of India, National Wom

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”