<Note: Before publishing this article we sent it to the Editors of Frontiers in Pediatrics asking if they wished to correct any inaccuracies or provide any updates, giving them several days to respond. They did not acknowledge or respond.>
In September 2021 Frontiers in Pediatrics published this article by members of the Indonesian Pediatrician Association (IDAI) claiming that the
case fatality rate (CFR) for children with ‘suspected’ Covid in Indonesia was
1.4% (i.e. 1 in 71) with a CFR of 0.46% (1 in 217) for those with ‘confirmed’
Covid. No such high Covid fatality rates for children have been
observed elsewhere in the world. In fact, worldwide the infection fatality rate
was estimated (at the time the IDAI paper was published) to be 1 in 37,000 for those aged under 20.
The IDAI authors also made the startingly claim that, of the
175 ‘confirmed Covid deaths’ of children in their study, 62 had no existing
comorbidities. But again, elsewhere in the world cases of covid death
in children without serious comorbidities are almost unheard of. For example,
in the UK in the whole of 2020, a deep
analysis of ALL child deaths with Covid (there were 28 in total) revealed only
8 were confirmed as likely caused by Covid and that all 8 had a
comorbidity recorded, seven of whom had a life-limiting condition.
An article by Ted Hilbert written shortly after the IDAI article
was published highlighted the major problems with the study. While the claims in the paper were startling,
in June 2021 the IDAI (through its chairman) exaggerated the paper’s findings
even further, claiming to the media that Indonesia has the highest child
mortality rate (CFR) in the world, 3% to 5%. This article provides the full details of the obviously fraudulent claim and includes
the police report that was filed in response.
However, the massively exaggerated claim was used by IDAI to justify vaccinating
children in Indonesia, and indeed a recommendation letter from IDAI to the government,
based on the flawed study and claims about it, has been used as the main
justification by the Indonesian government to issue the EUA and related
policies for vaccinating children.
In the paper, the IDAI authors did not provide the raw data from which
their conclusions were drawn, so Hilbert wrote to them requesting it. He
received no reply (despite a statement by the authors that “The raw data supporting
the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without
undue reservation”) and so wrote to the Editors of Frontiers on 23 Oct 2021 to
request the data. The Editors finally replied on 11 Nov 2021 stating that they
would contact the authors requesting the data and finally on 30 Nov 2021 the “Research
Integrity Specialist” at Frontiers sent this link to the data.
After analysing the data with other experts including
pathologists, a group of authors wrote an 8-page detailed response to Frontiers on 15 Dec 2021 pointing out multiple flaws in the study and inaccuracies
in the data.
Hilbert has been promised several times that a review by the
editors will take place but (as of today 14 July 2022) this has never happened
despite several follow up requests by Hilbert. The paper, with its flawed conclusions that
have led to Indonesia’s child vaccine policy, remains published and unchanged.
It is worth pointing out that Frontiers can hardly be
accused of not responding to complaints about papers on Covid treatments. But
it seems only complaints against papers showing benefits of alternative
treatments are taken seriously. In May 2021 Frontiers in Pharmacology published an abstract
of a study by Pierre Kory on ivermectin for COVID-19 that had passed peer
review with an expert panel of reviewers including senior reviewers from the
FDA; but shortly before the full paper was due to be published in a special
issue edited by Robert Malone - it was pulled due to a third-party complaint,with no chance for resubmission.