Does Dr Aseem Malhotra’s Paper cure Misinformation or is it Misinformation?

Today’s Medium article addresses a very flawed paper published in a dubious science journal named “Journal of Insulin Resistance”, the new paper is now making it’s way as new anti-vax false info on social media and interviews alike. So without further ado, let’s get into the article.

The snake-oil salesman himself

➡️ The Bogus Science Journal

The first red flags appear when you try to look up this science journal on ScienceDirect [1], Pubmed [2] or on Web of Science. They are not there, at all. This shows us straight away that this journal isn’t reputable at all.

Journal of Insulin Resistance has been around since 2016, in that time the journal has only posted 28 studies [3], 20 of those studies from it’s own Editorial Board when you type in “study” on their search section.

To make matters even worse for this paper, the biggest bias that anyone can hold in publishing a science paper is a conflict of interest, funnily enough, Dr. Aseem Maholtra is a part of the journal's Editorial Board [4]. This instantly throws the whole study into disrepute and makes you wonder why he didn’t try another reputable journal such as The Lancet or NEJM as two examples. This means the study did not get the rigorous peer-view that Dr. Aseem claims; how can you peer-review your OWN WORK?

References:
[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/search?authors=Aseem%20Maholtra&qs=Journal%20of%20insulin%20resistance
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=%22journal+of+insulin+resistance%22%5BJournal%5D&sort=
[3] https://insulinresistance.org/index.php/jir/search/search
[4] https://insulinresistance.org/index.php/jir/pages/view/editorial-team

➡️ ️️️️️The Flawed Study

The DOI link to this paper which he has co-authored is an editorial paper [2], not the best form of evidence on the Levels of evidence pyramid [3]. Basically the equivalent of an opinion paper. It’s the lowest form of scientific evidence available as can be seen from the picture below:

Levels of evidence pyramid

In fact, here’s a correspondence [4] to the editorial paper highlighting that Malhotra et al cherry-picked studies and data to suit a narrative that they all agreed to, thus showing a misrepresentation of other studies.

References:
[1] https://insulinresistance.org/index.php/jir/article/view/71/221
[2] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/15/1111
[3] https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/healthevidence/evidencepyramid
[4] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/24/1512

➡️ Citation to the flawed Abstract 10712 Study

The infamous Abstract 10712 study [1] tried to state that Covid-19 vaccination dramatically increased the rate of heart attacks, which we all know it doesn’t. This abstract has been refuted by an evidence-based article from Clinical Science Nerd [2], you don’t expect this from a “Review” article. Also, the review article missed proper peer-reviewed studies such as “Safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in a Nationwide Setting” [3] published to NEJM in 2021, you would have thought this would be cited, but it’s not within the references section of the study whatsoever.

References:
[1] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/circ.144.suppl_1.10712
[2] https://www.clinical-science-nerd.de/post/no-mrna-vaccines-for-covid-19-do-not-dramatically-increase-the-risk-for-heart-attacks
[3] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa2110475

➡️ ARR (Absolute Risk Reduction) Fallacy Point

Dr Malhotra claims that informed consent should be done on ARR by being told about the effectiveness of the vaccines, trying to take notice of another Lancet study that was also misinterpreted, with a rebuttal [1] provided an explanation into ARR, NTT and VE. Plus the reason why the clinical trials showed low-Risk Reduction was the fact that they were stopped before too many people were infected.

To determine vaccine effectiveness (VE), VE is the golden standard that everyone should be going by when addressing the effectiveness of these vaccines. “The demonstration of vaccine efficacy (VE), typically through a Phase 3 trial, is * fundamental * for licensure and to help inform policy-makers about potential uses of vaccines. Vaccine efficacy is an individual-level measure of vaccine effects defined as the proportionate * reduction of the incidence * of the target infection in vaccinated participants compared to controls” [2].

Generally, vaccine efficacy equals one minus the hazard, odds, or risk ratio, with 100% efficacy corresponding to zero incidences in vaccinated persons. The demonstration of efficacy is especially important for a first vaccine to be licensed against a specific pathogen, as would be the case for the Blueprint priority diseases. Satisfactory evidence of vaccine efficacy and vaccine safety are the primary factors evaluated when determining vaccine licensure. [3] [4]

References: [1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(21)00119-1/fulltext?fbclid=IwAR3yHaD-57NTlkO8WazjdK1wn5-1yUgJSHcfqLT1SKxSR9se1RMmU03xpg8#%20
[2] Halloran et al. 1991 — https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/133/4/323/166589?redirectedFrom=fulltext&login=false
[3] Russek-Cohen et al. 2016 — https://link.springer.com/article/10.1177/2168479015604181
[4] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/blue-print/working-group-for-vaccine-evaluation-(4th-consultation)/ap1-guidelines-online-consultation.pdf

➡️ The Man Himself & Controversies

The Infamous Pioppi Diet and the Book

In 2017 Malhotra claimed that saturated fat did not “clog the arteries” [5] and that heart disease can be cured with a daily walk and “eating real food” however this was later reputed by the British Heart Foundation for being misleading [6].

During the Covid-19 pandemic, being the snake oil salesman he is, Aseem tried to promote his diet book as a way to combat Covid-19 via “metabolic optimisation” which he stated would reduce viral infection within 21 days [7], David Gorski from ScienceBasedMedicine refuted this claim and criticised Aseem’s book [8].

Later on into the pandemic in November 2021 he appeared on GBNews and made an outlandish claim that an abstract published by Steven Gundry has falsely found an association with an increase in heart attacks after mRNA vaccination, something which the American Heart Association and FullFact have stated via evidence-based information to be misinterpreted and false [9].

References: [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569730/
[2] https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-pioppi-diet
[3] https://archive.nutrition.org.uk/nutritioninthenews/headlines/pioppidiet.html
[4] http://kenwilsdon.com/top-five-celeb-diets-to-avoid-in-2018/
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/30/butter-nonsense-the-rise-of-the-cholesterol-deniers
[6] https://web.archive.org/web/20200513200948/https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/experts-headline-grabbing-editorial-on-saturated-fats-bizarre-misleading/
[7] https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/editors-corner/dr-aseem-malhotra-the-best-vaccine-against-coronavirus-is-optimising-metabolic-health/
[8] https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/can-optimizing-your-metabolism-through-diet-prevent-or-cure-covid-19/
[9] https://fullfact.org/health/covid-vaccines-heart-disease/

➡️ Conclusion
Dr Aseem Malhotra’s paper is misinformation, for someone of his stature to make easy mistakes such as: citing pre-prints in the reference section of his review study, conflicts of interest from the paper, failing to include legitimate studies in his review paper, falsely stating his diet from a book would help reduce Covid-19 and other things conclude Dr Aseem cannot be trusted to make reliable judgments regarding vaccinations and any all information should be dismissed.

💥 Thanks for reading, Lawrence. Please consider a small contribution, in the form of a beer as all articles are created in my small amount of spare time: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/LawrenceRob

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Lawrence Robinson

Passionate about evidence-based scientific information and tackling falsehoods that thrive on social media.