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THE CASE AGAINST MS BIK AND PUBPEER

21 June 2021

IHU Méditerranée Infection has been harassed by Ms. Bik, Mr. Barbour, Mr. Schneider through Pubpeer website. This phenomenon was triggered when we started to speak about hydroxychloroquine which seems to have excited them. My repeated requests to Ms. Bik to know if she had received money directly or indirectly from Pharmaceuticals companies and more specifically from Gilead, which markets remdesivir, went unanswered. Instead, she clearly asked an associate that we pay her. The very precise analysis of the 246 articles for which she accuses us of having committed « fraud » allows us to conclude very strictly that there is a total absence of fraud in the sense of conscious manipulation of the data in order to modify the result in the aim to make it more meaningful, a deliberate act and which therefore presumes a motive.

70% of the criticisms made on Pubpeer about the IHU articles relate to a potential absence or a numbering error of the “Comité de Protection des Personnes”  (CPP) or Institutional Review Board (IRB), so we are dealing with ethics. In practice the rules of ethics depend on the declaration of Helsinki and the national laws. Under these conditions, obtaining anonymized samples such as faeces or the collection of lice on clothing for the purpose of a microbial analysis does not require, in French law, the opinion of the ethics committee or the request of CPP, we asked the question to the CNRS ethics committee. This is also the case for samples from standard care protocols for which the use of anonymized « fonds de tubes » for research purposes is authorized, we also had in this case written confirmation from the competent authorities. Finally, the missions of the IHU like CNR of Rickettsiae, Coxiellae and Bartonellae, or like monitoring pilgrims, or homeless are perfectly supervised from an ethical point of view. which means that already 70% of the Pubpeer requests are totally illicit. Furthermore, Ms. Bik was very irritated by the fact that we were surprised by the absence of a declaration of conflict of interest with Gilead or pharmaceutical companies at the time of the introduction of remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine. Interestingly, Pubpeer refused to integrate this anomaly for the main investigator in France of therapeutic trials with remdesivir, which was later rectified due to the publication of an erratum, from his part regarding his conflicts of interest. Regarding IHU and Pr. Raoult conflicts of interest, these are completely absurd. We do not have relationship with pharmaceutical industry. The only conflicts of interest that Ms. Bik believes to have detected are linked with start-ups that were created within the IHU Méditerranée Infection, which is a formal mission of all IHU in France in order to enhance research. When these start-ups had products, which could be related to the article this was disclosed. On the other hand for ten publications, Mrs. E Bik and the anonymous sphere of Pubpeer users believe that the fact of classifying lice had a relationship with a treatment proposed with Ivermectin which means, for example, that one could not do genetic analysis in Human if we had a link with a Human therapeutic industry disconnected from genetics. In 9% of the cases comments on Pubpeer website claim that there are duplications. Obviously the tools that Ms. E. Bik uses are of poor quality or very subjective because we have been able to show that there were no duplications in the vast majority of cases. The four duplications by negligence that we noticed did not change the result of the publication, and have already or are being corrected via erratum. Among the other comments essentially a relentless attempt to demonstrate that hydroxychloroquine did not work methodologically and comments on taxonomy that show more the opinion of someone who is jealous in microbiology (it irritates her a lot that the bacteria are named Massiliensis or Timonensis). Regarding taxonomy, the rare negligence on a new genus or on a strain number – four articles – are being modified by erratum. These comments were moreover preceding the relentlessness harassment by Mrs. E. Bik and its sphere of influence (more than 200 commented articles between April and May 2021). Moreover, Mrs. Bik had written in 22 articles that our research was neo-colonialist, which is deeply insulting considering the history of the IHU Mediterranean Infection with the countries of the South, and for the thousand of foreign students who came to train at the IHU Méditerranée Infection. We also see all these comments as a gang harassment because the same comments were copied and pasted in 60% of the articles. We have carried out an exhaustive analysis of all these comments, which we will not send to Pubpeer, which is obviously a profoundly dishonest institution, against which we are also filing a complaint, after the ones against Mme Bik and against Mr Barbour, who relayed her to France, and against Mr Schneider, who has already been convicted of defamation in Germany.