Original article (in Serbian) was published on 17/05/2023
Several web portals wrote about an American study that allegedly proves that “mass dying was not due to Covid but due to ventilators”. We contacted one of the authors of the study, in charge of communication, and he confirmed that this interpretation of the research results is wrong.
The results of the study, written about by Webtribune, Srbin.info, Objektivno, Nulta tacka and Dnevni zurnal, were published in the scientific paper “Machine learning links unresolved secondary pneumonia with mortality in patients with severe pneumonia, including those suffering from COVID-19”. However, instead of the published results, all the listed media base their erroneous conclusions on the interpretation of the results of this research published on the web portal Science Alert. In the Srbin.info text, this web portal is mistakenly called a medical-scientific journal.
Some of the sensational headlines state the following: “Shock discovery: Mass dying was not due to Covid but due to something else”, “Science Alert: Mass dying was not due to Covid but VENTILATORS!”, “OFFICIAL REPORT: Ventilators killed almost all patients with COVID”.
The focus of all disputed texts is the alleged conclusion indicating that ventilators are to blame for the death of patients and not the coronavirus.
However, the published conclusion of the scientific work states the following:
CarpeDiem [a machine learning model] found that the long stay of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit can be attributed to the long duration of the condition, which is primarily characterized by respiratory failure. Although pneumonia associated with ventilator support patients (VAP) was not linked with overall mortality, mortality was higher in patients with one unsuccessfully treated episode of VAP compared with successfully treated VAP (76.4% vs. 17.6%, P < 0.001). In all patients, including those with COVID-19, CarpeDiem has shown that untreatable VAP leads to progression to clinical conditions associated with higher mortality”.
Benjamin Singer, one of the authors of the research, further explains: “Our data indicate that unresolved secondary bacterial pneumonia contributed to mortality in patients who were already critically ill, with severe pneumonia, including those suffering from COVID-19. It is important to note that all patients in our study were critically ill due to respiratory failure and would have died without the support of mechanical ventilation”.
The news has become viral on Twitter as well, thus collecting 53,000 views and about 800 interactions per post.