Today I was surprised to see a lot of visitors from Egypt on my blog. A closer look learned that they came for a blog I wrote almost a year ago about a very dubious detector for the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). It looked quite like the bogus bomb- and drugsdetectors which led to a big scandal and courtcases in the United Kingdom.
I didn’t hear anything new about the Egyptian detector until today. Apparently a spokesperson for the Egyptian Armed Forces announced that they were to present a new device for detection (and treatment) of HCV.
A press conference was scheduled for this afternoon, but I could not find anything specific about that. I did find however the following YouTube video which was uploaded yesterday and confirms that is about the same bogus device. Google Translated the video is titled Device for the detection and treatment of viral hepatitis C and AIDS gift from the Egyptian army to the people of Egypt.
If someone who understands Arabic reads this blog and can summarize what is told in the video in the comments, that would be great!
This ‘detector’ had caused a little row in articles of the Guardian last year. In my blog from April 2013 I wrote about the poster presentation the researchers (dr. Gamal Shiha in particular) held on International Liver Congres in Amsterdam (EASL 2013) a couple of weeks later.
They presented some incredible figures, but also showed a different device: Egyptian hepatitis C detector changes shape. Where’s the dowsing rod?
Of course today I tried to find some more information on what happened after these events. I noticed that the Egyptians had managed to get their research published. The article is titled: A Novel Method for Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Hepatitis C Virus Using Electromagnetic Signal Detection: A Multicenter International Study by Shiha et al. (International Journal of Medical, Pharmaceutical Science and Engineering Vol:7 No:12, 2013). The publisher of this journal can be found on Beall’s list [mirror] of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers, which isn’t a good sign at all.
What becomes clear from the article is that they indeed used the dowsing rod like device which we saw Shiha use on the picture in the Guardian article. It has international patent number PCT/EG2010/000044, which can be viewed here in detail.
So they did not use the barcode scanner like machine they put on their poster at the International Liver Congress!
Were they afraid that other visitors to the congres might ask them some awkward questions as some would probably remember the images of the dowsing rod from the Guardian article? Anyway, to me this looks like a clear example of scientific fraud.
But how about the results which were obtained using this dowsing rod? The article mentions only very briefly what kind of procedure they followed:
The study throughout its three phases was done blindly. Each time; the desired subjects were prepared as negative and positive for HCV proved by RT-PCR. Meanwhile, each subject was tested by C-FAST device and results were recorded as positive or negative by the operator who was unaware of the results of the PCR. Thereafter, the results of HCV-RNA by RT-PCR and the results of C-FAST device were sent for the statistical analyses to compare the two methods regarding sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values. Again, the statistician was external and unaware of the study purpose.
The blinding is not convincing at all. The researchers selected (probably HCV positive) participants from a couple of research institutes and hospitals and the controls were picked from army recruits. So most likely almost all participants knew their HCV status and could have easily given off signs of that to the operator. As we can see from the video above, there were no screens to obscure the participants from the operators view.
This is a terrible mess. Unfortunately the Egyptian Armed Forces seem very convinced they now have a reliable and quick method to detect viruses without the need for blood samples. Also presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi praised ‘the breakthrough made by the armed forces engineering department to help detect and cure Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS patients’ today. What?? So they even think it can cure AIDS!? This is so … %^$%
Update: press release Armed Forces achieve scientific breakthrough – President Adly Mansour and Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi were presented with the first system for discovering and treating Hepatitis and AIDS patients.
|Follow up in Update on #KoftaGate – Egyptian Miracle Detectors and Cures for Hepatitis C and AIDS