It started with a claim to have discovered a machine that can diagnose HCV, but quickly spiralled to become a machine (or two machines) that can detect, treat and cure hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), along with probably cancer, diabetes and AIDS.
Major General Ibrahim Abdul Atti, a doctor working with the military, announced his C-FAST discovery in a government-sponsored press conference. He claimed his discovery cured HIV/AIDS with a 100% success rate and HCV with 95% success rate, with a clear nod at the end to the role of the military and the defence minister in “making his discovery a reality.”
The miracle machine apparently diagnoses and treats patients non-invasively. The videos shown in the press release show a handheld device with a protruding antenna that follows patients as they walk around the room. Abdul Atti says that the device somehow remotely draws blood from the patient, destroys the virus, and returns it as “nutrients” to the patient. “”I will take it away from him as a disease and give it back to him in the form of a cure,” he said.
The media took this and ran with it, along with several doctors and members of the research team, claiming that the machine can treat HCV, HIV and even cancer and diabetes among other diseases. It is being taunted as a magic bullet to solve every problem there is. In fact, when Essam Heggy, a planetary scientist in the Radar Science Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Egyptian president’s scientific advisor, was quoted by a private newspaper saying the discovery was “a scientific scandal” for Egypt, many politicians and journalists called on the president to sack him for tarnishing Egypt and the army’s reputation.
Without going into any unnecessary political discussions, I’ll focus more on the science angle of the discovery. Islam Hussein, an Egyptian virologist working in MIT, made a detailed video debunking the science in the piece. The video runs close to 90 minutes though. However, here are several warning bells that leave little room for anything other than skepticism about this claimed discovery.
1) Such a discovery, if it was true, would have possibly been one of the biggest breakthroughs in history. This would have easily been published in one of the highest impact journals, such as Nature, Science or Cell. Instead, this paper appears in a little known journal with no impact factor called World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, which is listed as a potential predatory publisher, publishing hoaxes and poorly peer reviewed or non-reviewed papers.
2) The paper is poorly written. The language is poor, details are lacking, there is no proof of principle offered and no logical explanations. They just talk about tests on patients without even outlining the steps taken before starting to experiment on humans. There is no clear explanation of the processes followed either.
3) The researchers claim they have received a patent for their invention. However, a quick search shows that the patent review team commented that the “description undoubtly lacks a clear and complete disclosure of the claimed invention and cannot be allowed under Article 5 PCT.” They claim in the paper that they have patented their invention, but that is a lie.
4) With a little basic understanding of science, one cannot help but be completely skeptic about how the device works due to the large number of question marks surrounding it. The device is claimed to work remotely through electromagnetic waves. Somehow it is the first process that uses biological electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) to detect signature marks of the viruses. This is something unheard of in any of the past science literature, yet there is nothing offered in the paper on the research or the principles used.
Then, there’s the question of how is the blood drawn out of the body, and then inserted back in again afterwards? How does it recognize the signature of the virus with the incredible 100% accuracy claimed? So many unanswered questions.
All in all, the paper does not follow any scientific methodology, jumping straight to clinical tests that they claim to have performed using the new device.
This is just a few of the problems with the paper, the research, and the methodology attached to this outrageous claims. The research is too poor to even be taken in consideration. This embarrassing event highlights the sad realities in Egypt right now – but I’ll go into those in more details in another blogpost tomorrow.
For now, this is not science. I do not know what this can even be called.