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Correspondence on ‘Historically controlled comparison of glucocorticoids with or without tocilizumab versus supportive care only in patients with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm syndrome: results of the CHIC study’
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  1. Pierre Charles
  1. Internal Medicine, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pierre Charles, Internal Medicine, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, Paris, France; pierre.charles{at}imm.fr

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I was surprised when I read your web page promoting the study ‘Historically controlled comparison of glucocorticoids with or without tocilizumab versus supportive care only in patients with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm syndrome: results of the CHIC study’.1 The methodology of this study (comparison of a treatment with a historical control) is known to lead to major biases. The results were positive, consistent with another study using the same methodology.2 Although the authors acknowledged the risk of bias related to this design, such studies lead to many press releases, mass communication and (false) hope for both doctors and patients despite their low level of evidence. Finally, when randomised controlled trials evaluating the interest of using tocilizumab in COVID-19 failed to demonstrate a benefit,3–5 this resulted in huge deception and loss of confidence in the academic research among the population. As a clinician and researcher, I expect researchers but also editors of leading medical journals to promote studies able to provide a high level of evidence.6 This hard time of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic should remind us to make clinical research with the strongest possible methodology and a rigorous analysis to prevent misleading results and false hope.

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Footnotes

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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