Is coffee an effective medicine to deal with Covid-19? A large team of researchers in France and the UK explore whether that question—the question, not the coffee—is a good way to get people thinking about:
- how difficult it can be to find an effective treatment for any problem, and
- how easy it can be to produce unreliable, shoddy answers, and
- how easy it can be to pay attention to unreliable, shoddy answers
The study is: “Why Methodology Is Important: Coffee as a Candidate Treatment for COVID-19,” Yaniss Belaroussi, Paul Roblot, Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, Thomas Delaye, Simone Mathoulin-Pelissier, Joffrey Lemeux, Gwenaël Le Moal, Eric Caumes, France Roblot, and Alexandre Bleibtreu, Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 9, no. 11, 2020, 36912020.
The abstract begins:
Background: During this pandemic situation, some studies have led to hasty conclusions about Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19) treatment, due to a lack of methodology. This pedagogic study aimed to highlight potential biases in research on COVID-19 treatment.
Methods: We evaluate the effect of coffee’s active part, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (TMX) on patients with COVID-19. A cohort of 93 patients, with a diagnosis of COVID-19 is analyzed.
The authors proceed to do an intentionally sloppy, bad piece of not-even-research. Having lured the audience in with their implicit offer of coffee, they then serve up an unappetizing but valuable hot gulp:
Conclusions: Multiple biases prevents us from concluding to an effect of coffee on COVID-19. Despite an important social pressure during this crisis, methodology and conscientiousness are the best way to avoid hasty conclusions that can be deleterious for patients.