Earlier this year, the Engineering Authority of Egypt's military announced a hand-held instrument that could detect a variety of viral infections without even touching a person, and another device that clears a patient's blood of viruses. Widespread treatment of Egyptian patients with both devices was scheduled to begin today, but military officials said on Saturday that they were delaying the rollout for another 6 months.
That decision comes after months of controversy. According to government officials, the treatments will not only wipe out AIDS and hepatitis at home—Egypt has the highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the world—but will also make a fortune as foreign patients flock to the country. Whereas the Western scientific community has ridiculed the devices as pseudoscience, Egyptian academics have been largely silent. The country's military regime has been handing down harsh criminal punishments for its critics, including journalists. But one expat Egyptian scientist, Islam Hussein, has created videos, one of which has garnered more than 100,000 views on YouTube—a large number considering they are 80-minute PowerPoint presentations in Arabic explaining the devices' scientific problems. Like most of Egypt's top scientific talent, Hussein, 36, left his country. After a virology Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, he settled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, in the United States, where he researches avian influenza. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.