A YouTube video being spread on the Internet in four different languages, claims that a successful trial has been conducted using Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) as a cure for malaria. The trial allegedly has been organized in cooperation with the Ugandan Red Cross Society and the Water Reference Center, in Uganda, December last year. MMS is a well known quack product of which dangerous people claim it can cure diseases like cancer, HIV, hepatitis, avian flue and also malaria. In reality it’s nothing more than industrial strength bleach (sodium chlorite) which is ‘activated’ by adding citric acid so that it releases chlorine dioxide. There is no scientific evidence for any of the health claims made by MMS proponents. The US Food and Drug Administration is clear about it too: “throw it away“.
The following video was produced by Leo Koehof, who has translated several books of Jim Humble, the inventor of the MMS myths, and was uploaded to YouTube by Andreas Kalcker, a German living in Spain and also well known for spreading all kinds of quackery. Watch the video, but be aware that the voice-over is trying to make you believe something which did not actually happen as told. The International Red Cross (IFRC) has released a statement in which dissociates itself in the strongest terms from the video the Ugandan Red Cross Society did this as well in reply to questions from a Spanish blogger.
Malaria quick test used for the deception
The Red Cross statements do not explain why we see people in uniforms of the Ugandan Red Cross Society or what did actually took place in Luuka. Has a test been done which was deliberately misrepresented by the makers of the video? I think so and I guess that Koehof and Kalcker try to deceive the audience in the following way. The first test they use to determine if the person has malaria is a ‘quick test‘, which looks for the presence of
antibodies antigens which evokes the production of antibodies against malaria. It is quite useless in malaria endemic areas, because people are likely to have been infected by malaria more than once and the antibodies not long before the test and the antigens will be circulating in the blood for quite a while after infection has been overcome. [corrections on 24/5/2013 after commentary by ‘Ric’ below] A positive quick test doesn’t mean that the person was actually infected with malaria parasites on that moment! More info about these tests and their limitations can be found here.
The only proper way to determine whether someone is infected, is to take a blood slide and count parasites under a microscope. My guess is that they only did this proper test on the second day. So all ‘false positives’ quick tests were found to be true negatives for malaria the following day. Only a couple of people may have been infected with a few parasites and had to be tested another day to fall below the threshold. If there really was a proper check of the positive quick tests on the first day, then why don’t they mention the number of false positives?
I cannot prove it without a doubt, but I think that the laboratory footage in the video (from 3.45) is actually shot on the following day. It’s also good to note that the lab registry doesn’t show a single positive blood slide, they are all annotated with ‘No mps seen‘ (‘mps’ = MalariaParasiteS). In fact, the video doesn’t give us definite prove of any malaria infection at all. I suggested this faulty testing procedure as an likely explanation for the seemingly huge ‘succes’ in a comment on the YouTube video. This comment was astonishingly fast marked as ‘negative’ a couple of times, so it doesn’t show unless you unfold it. One commentator even went as far as writing that I talked ‘like a classic Nazi‘. After more discussion the comments were closed. Could this mean that I am on the right track a bit too much for the comfort of Kalcker c.s.? In the comments of a copy of the video (still open for comments) I even got a reply from Jim Humble himself which makes clear he doesn’t know a thing about the problem of the high number of false positives the quick test gives in malaria endemic areas.
The registration form on the right (around 7.15 in the video) shows on the top half ‘malaria strip positive’, but it doesn’t give a number of parasites found in a confirming blood slide. On itself is doesn’t mean that the local doctors or lab technicians were involved in the deception, but I think it is very easy to fool the audience into thinking something else happened with the ‘proper’ voice-over. And besides all this, we do not know anything about other (real) medication the participants took.
The result of this ‘trial’ doesn’t prove anything. However suggesting that it proves that MMS cures malaria could be very dangerous if this myth is spread widely!
Malaria expert Bart Knols wrote a blog on Malaria World on this issue as well. Quote from that blog:
Is Africa still being used as a play ground for testing dubious drugs on innocent people expecting proper treatment? In 2013? How is it possible that such ‘trials’ can proceed without the Ugandan health authorities demanding results from Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials? A search on PubMed reveals nothing on MMS as a cure for malaria.
And if you’ve read that blog, please sign the petition www.fakedrugskill.org as well!
Who sponsored this ‘trial’?
From the story as told on the pro-MMS websites (‘Malaria Finally Defeated’) we are told that Klaas Proesmans, a Belgian CEO of the Water Reference Center (WRC), was instrumental in organizing this ‘trial’ and even funded it privately. The website of the WRC doesn’t mention a thing about this and in the comments on the YouTube video some commenters mentioned that they had contacted Proesmans who dissociates himself from all this. I myself received a similar e-mail from him when I contacted the WRC (received May 21st 2013):
Dear Mr van Erp,
We dissociate ourselves from any content of any of these publications regarding possible activities in Uganda. The Uganda Red Cross Society has also dissociated herself from any communication on this topic
Met vriendelijke groet/kind regards,
With the stated dissociation of the Red Cross and the WRC, the MMS fanatics are now telling that there is a cover-up going on; that Big Pharma is using its influence on the IFRC to hide the positive results of this miracle cure again. Stupid conspiracy theories, which were to be expected from this sect like organisations, or is there some truth to this?
From watching the video, which shows documents with the WRC logo and features images of Proesmans, and a weblog from a German Red Cross volunteer [Update 9/9/2013: this has been deleted and is not longer available in Google cache. I have a copy, mail me if you are really interested] involved in this event, we can only conclude that Proesmans was involved at least in some way. I could be however that Koehof and Kalcker have tricked him into this somehow and try to make it look like he is far more involved than is actually the case. The Spanish Red Cross replied to questions from a Spanish weblog that the relations of the WRC and Proesmans to the Red Cross are not as formal as suggested in the MMS newsletter.
I had also urged Proesmans in my e-mail to make a public statement on the WRC website explaining his involvement and in doing so help in putting an end to this potentially dangerous rumour. He didn’t respond to this suggestion. On another website a email from him was quoted, in which he suggests that this was all about looking for the (general?) effect of water purified with chlorine dioxid on the human body (and that there are non-disclosure agreements preventing to tell more about this). But why on earth would you use chlorine dioxide to purify already clean bottled water, as can been seen used in the video?
I contacted the Secretary of the Board of the WRC, Ruud Koornstra, a well known ‘green’ entrepreneur in the Netherlands. He was quite shocked by the information I had send him. Obviously the board of the WRC was not aware of any involvement in this trial and Koornstra made it very clear to me that the WRC Board does not want to have anything to do with a trial using such an obvious quack product. He let me know that he will try to find out what happened. I hope we’ll see an official statement soon. At this moment it seems to me that Proesmans acted entirely upon his own and without consulting others of the WRC. A malaria trial looks rather distinct from the activities presented on the WRC website.
Leo Koehof in Frontier magazine
I also received an article based on an interview with Leo Koehof, from Dutch alternative magazine Frontier (May/June 2013 edition). In his version of events, a Belgian named ‘Peter’ (the article states that this is a fictitious name, but it has to be Klaas Proesmans) contacted Koehof in Gemany in October 2012. ‘Peter’ had become enthusiastic about MMS after attending a Jim Humble seminar (in Mexico?). He liked to see whether MMS was really capable of curing malaria within 24 hours as claimed and told Koehof that he was able to help out organizing a real test with 200 malaria patients. According to Koehof, he himself was already planning to go to Uganda and told ‘Peter’ he could join. A week later, to his surprise, ‘Peter’ indeed came to Uganda and put his connections with the Red Cross to work. He had those connections due to his work for the Water Reference Center.
They eventually got clearance from the Ugandan Red Cross (from a certain Dr. Bulanda) to conduct a test after they provided evidence that sodium chlorite was essential for human health. They got this evidence after talks with the National Drug Authority and the local water provider, who would testify that sodium chlorite is essential for … water purification. After several weeks of negotiating the test details with Red Cross representatives, they went to Luuka and did what we see in the video.
Even if this story is only approximately true, it seems that something went really wrong in Uganda. Having some experience in Africa myself (and with bureaucracies there), this wouldn’t surprise that much. But if it is true, there should be enough documents to prove it. Maybe the Ugandan Red Cross just thought it was a project about water purification without the claims about curing malaria. That a product is useful for water purification doesn’t mean that it is safe for human consumption, though. The Ugandan Red Cross Society might be trying to hide a terrible blunder, but it’s not a cover-up of a successful test of MMS for malaria in any case.
Whether you believe that such a product as MMS can cure diseases or not, there is no excuse whatsoever to carry out a trial bypassing all ethical en scientific research standards as was clearly the case in this ‘trial’. The only reassurance is that the participants probably had no malaria to start with, they also looked quite healthy.
Based on my blog on Kloptdawel.nl (in Dutch): Grof schandaal: MMS kwakzalvers doen alsof ze malaria kunnen genezen in Oeganda (“Big scandal: MMS quacks pretend to cure malaria in Uganda”)
Follow up on this story: