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A Study in Humans

What People Worried About the Quality of COVID-19 Studies Should Know

Recalled COVID-19 studies have raised valid questions about who or what to trust about the pandemic.

E. Rosalie
5 min readAug 12, 2020


Whether we can trust science matters.

If it’s unreliable, that matters, but if the research is of high quality, we should condemn sensationalist headlines. Let’s look at the facts, then you decide.

Scientists have completed over 40,000 COVID-19 related studies since January 2020. When the pandemic began, many scientists asked how they could apply their knowledge to the problems facing us.

They successfully collaborated across culture, place, creed, and politics all around the world. Nothing requires them to do it, but that speaks to what science is and does. It is the pursuit of truth for the good of humankind.

Still, if the recent efforts had flaws, it’s important to recognize them and how it affects recommendation.

Total Number of COVID-19 Studies

  • 40,127+ COVID-19 related studies published as of Aug 12, 2020
  • 30 full retractions
  • 1 temporary retraction
  • 3 formal letters of concern

People often struggle to comprehend numbers at that scale, so here’s what that might look like.

We should look critically at all potential sources for guidance, but the standard for your judgment must reflect reality. Comparisons happen between the options on the table, not against perfection unless someone is offering it.



E. Rosalie

Disasters & information (public health + nat sec) | Johns Hopkins alum | @COVID19Tracking alum | Mapping medical misinfo 💉 and information disorder