Statement no. 6 of the Committee on Human Genetics and Molecular Pathology of the Polish Academy of Sciences on the groundless optimism of media reports on the national COVID-19 research of January 16, 2022

During a pandemic, we are recipients of media reports that appear from time to time about the achievements of Polish entities, which are to significantly improve the bad epidemic situation. This is often combined with enthusiastic opinions of government representatives. This was the case with the Polish drug from the serum of convalescents, the Polish vaccine for COVID-19, and the Polish test for SARS-CoV-2. In all cases, the achieved effect, if any at all, does not correspond to the uncritical promises and optimistic statements publicized in the media.
In recent days, we hear a lot about the discovery of a gene mutation determining an increased predisposition to the severe clinical course of COVID-19, slightly more common in the Polish study group than in some other European countries. The transfer of information on this subject is accompanied by a media hustle and bustle, disproportionate to the merits of the case, combined with the lofty statements of the authorities of the Ministry of Health. There is no tangible scientific evidence to support these emphatic assurances. Without questioning the scientific value of the unknown research results, the Committee is strongly critical of this method of communicating the results of research work. It is a rule accepted in the world that the credibility of media enunciations must be based on appropriate scientific publications which have undergone an appropriate expert review procedure before the public announcement of the research results. Such publications should be available for viewing in a scientific journal as soon as they are publicized in the media. Obviously, the higher the journal's ranking, the higher the potential value of its results. The reference to a publication that is to appear in an undefined journal at an indefinite period of time bears the hallmarks of a lack of scientific professionalism.
Residual information, appearing in the flood of enthusiastic media reports, suggest an increased by several percent frequency of mutation (what?) Of the gene (what?) Present in chromosome 3, which causes a two-fold increase in the severity of the disease on COVID-19 in the group of patients studied in Poland. We do not know how it actually is, as we do not know the publication data so far, but for geneticists and pathologists the plans for immediate implementation of a genetic test that will detect this change sound amazing. The authors of the project are clearly unaware of the immensity of damage caused as a result of the uncritical acceptance of the results of commonly offered predisposition tests (and this is what we are talking about in this case), e.g. in oncology, where the obtained negative results reassure the respondents of a false and unjustified sense of health safety. In tests of this type, we deal only with a game of numerical, theoretical probabilities that have nothing to do with real individual clinical situations. The statement that such a test could be performed in HEDs sounds naive and contradicts scientific reason - what might be the sense of determining statistical genetic predisposition in acute medical scenarios that are dealt with by emergency departments of infectious hospitals?
The Committee on Human Genetics and Molecular Pathology of the Polish Academy of Sciences calls for the public not to be misled by the overly optimistic tone of such reports.

For the Committee on Human Genetics 
and Molecular Pathology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

/ - / prof. dr hab. med. Michał Witt

The above statement is fully endorsed by the Main Board of the Polish Society of Human Genetics.


statement in Polish