Representatives of Egypt's military—you know, the coup guys—claimed in weirdly public fashion over the weekend that they have hit upon a revolutionary breakthrough treatment for AIDS and Hepatitis C. But an embarrassed aide to Egypt's president is calling "bullshit."
Military officers made the surprise announcement Saturday at a medical school opening attended by the president and the military coup's leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sources say those men didn't know about the "cure" in advance and weren't pleased about its rollout.
That's because it sounds like utter propagandistic piffle, part of a televised dog-and-pony show so bizarre that Fidel Castro and Baghdad Bob would've slunk quietly away from it out of sheepishness.
The heart of the claims are that a military-fashioned device, looking a bit like a heavy-duty stapler with a telescopic antenna, can detect HIV and hepatitis C through electromagnetic waves, without drawing any blood. Also, the detection device does treatment, somehow.
If true, that would be big news for Egypt, which "has the highest rate of hepatitis C in the world, with around 20% of people either suffering or having recovered from the disease," according to the BBC—whose experts also basically chortled and said "That'd be the day."
The claims don't stop there, though. Video purporting to be of the press conference has surfaced on YouTube, shown above. It is subtitled by the translator, who appears to be an opponent of the military government, and whose work must be taken with a grain of salt by this non-Arabic speaker—though not nearly as large as the salt lick you need to swallow the military's line.
"We defeated AIDS…and we did not, and will never import medicine, costing Egypt, to treat even one Egyptian from AIDS," the speaker—identified elsewhere as Major General Ibrahim Abdel-Atti, a doctor—says. "Even one pence," he adds in English. "Inshallah—God willing."
"..And indeed, I conquered AIDS with the blessings of my Lord, Glory to Him, with a (success) percentage [of] 100 percent," he says to sporadic applause, "and I conquered the [hepatitis] C… You will never find a patient suffering from the Hepatitis C virus after today, God willing!"
Another general later told Arab media that doctors outside Egypt wouldn't get a chance to see the medical device in action: They "would not be exported abroad in order to protect them from 'the mafia' of big pharmaceutical companies and nations that control the pharmaceutical industry."
Meanwhile, the Egyptian president's top scientific adviser rolled his eyes at the announcement. "The devices are unconvincing and appear to have no clear scientific basis," he told an Egyptian newspaper, adding that the generals should have met "international standards of research, publishing and production" before publicly announcing their "miracle" and presumably making a joke of the country's nascent political system.