The Egyptian army on Saturday said it would postpone for six months the public use of a device previously publicised as able to treat and cure hepatitis C and Aids viruses. 
The announcement of the delay was made two days before a scheduled date set by the army for the use of the machine at military hospitals for treating civilians.
“The delay will continue until the end of the experimental period related to the follow-up of patients being treated by the device,” Maj Gen Jamal Al Serafi, the chief of the army’s medical services, said. “This takes six months.”
The device was launched in February when a pro-military frenzy gripped Egypt after the army deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous protests against his troubled one-year rule. Incumbent President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi was the architect of Mursi’s overthrow.
The device, introduced as a “scientific breakthrough”, caused a massive stir after it was touted as treating and curing hepatitis C, Aids, cancer and even diabetes.
The machine triggered derision on social media and maverick TV programmes after one of the medical army team members said the equipment draws blood from the HIV/Aids patient, destroys the virus and returns it as nutrients “like grilled meatball” to the patient.
Top TV comedian Bassem Youssef used to heap satire on the publicised efficiency of the device on his popular show, which was halted last month amid purported pressure on the show makers.
The device was, meanwhile, dismissed as a “big scandal” for Egypt by Essam Heji, a scientific adviser to former president Adly Mansour. “This device lacks proper scientific basis,” Heji was quoted as saying.
Other detractors said the equipment was not cleared by any world accreditation institution.
“Scientific honesty dictates postponing the start of using the CCD [the name of the device] in treating citizens,” Maj Gen Al Serafi said on Saturday at a press conference.
“The Armed Forces will not allow its use in treatment unless it is verified to be totally safe.”
The controversial device is being used in clinical tests on 160 hepatitis sufferers, other officials told reporters. They did not refer to previous claims of detecting and curing HIV/Aids.
Egypt has a very high incidence of hepatitis C virus.