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Exposing how ‘desperation science’ slows the race for a remedy

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Health and Science staffers Marilynn Marchione, chief medical writer, and Kathy Young, video journalist, revealed how pressure and politics have corrupted and delayed the scientific process, slowing the development of effective treatments against the coronavirus pandemic.

Marchione tracked studies that are underway, looking for flaws or gaps in the methodology. She interviewed dozens of doctors, researchers, patients and policy experts as she examined which countries or private groups were trying to do solid science. The forces undermining that, she found, include political agendas, a lack of coordination in corporate research and the desperation of doctors pressured to try something – anything – to try to save patients.

Young worked with the University of Pittsburgh, using a GoPro camera and laptop mounted on medical carts to document a COVID-19 patient’s treatment in a clinical trial. She and Marchione interviewed the woman from her hospital bed.

The story – challenging to report because of the fluid and chaotic nature of the subject itself – attracted readers and generated interest on social media, a strong showing for non-breaking news.

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