International

73 Egyptian Scientists Decry ‘Inaccurate’ Estimate of COVID-19 Cases in Egypt

73 Egyptian Scientists Decry ‘Inaccurate’ Estimate of COVID-19 Cases in Egypt

Photo: Center for Disease Control

Editor’s note: the following letter mistakenly names Walsh the author of The Guardian news article in question. 

Earlier today, a group of Egyptian scientists from across the world wrote a letter to the president of the University of Toronto decrying Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a clinical investigator at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (TGHRI). According to the signatories, Dr. Bogoch has tweeted false claims that the number of coronavirus cases in Egypt is 19,310.

In the letter, the signatories, which include renowned Egyptian-American space scientist and geologist Farouk El Baz, accused Bogoch of purposefully “releasing his inaccurate estimate to the public” and causing widespread panic across Egypt.

Dr. Bogoch’s tweets

The Egyptian scientists also demanded that the university launch an investigation into the Canadian scholar for scientific misconduct, adding that Bogoch has breached scientific norms when he released these figures.

NYT Cairo Bureau Chief Declan Walsh’s tweet

The group criticized The Guardian newspaper for publishing Bogoch’s findings and New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh for tweeting about the figure in a now-deleted tweet.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Professor Meric S. Gertler,
CM FRSC MCIP FAcSS FBA
President of the University of Toronto

Dear Professor Gertler,

As the Covid-19 pandemic escalates rapidly, countries are taking significant and unprecedented measures to flatten the curve of the disease and to limit the overburdening of their healthcare systems. Population panic through irresponsible misinformation may lead to significant or even disastrous economic impacts on emerging countries.

We, as Egyptian scientists and researchers from within and outside Egypt, were outraged by an irresponsible piece of information that came from an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto that recently caused a significant panic across Egypt and may have severe economic consequences. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a clinical investigator at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (TGHRI), tweeted on March 15th that he and his team estimated that the number of Covid-19 cases in Egypt is 19,310 (95% CI: 6,270-45,070), which is way above the figure indicated by the current WHO report. As of March 16th, 2020, the WHO official site has indicated that Egypt has had 126 cases, two deaths and 27 recoveries.

Dr. Bogoch claimed that his estimate is based on a short manuscript submitted to a medical journal, but not published yet. He also submitted his figures to the WHO and was planning to release the full pre-print manuscript, which was rejected from the pre-print site. When he was challenged on the accuracy of his estimate, he responded that he believes the initial figure was an overestimate and placed the number of cases at 6,000.

We would like the University of Toronto, under your leadership, to open an investigation into Dr. Bogoch for the following reasons:

1- Although the short manuscript written by Dr. Bogoch, et al. was rejected from the pre-print site, he insisted on releasing his inaccurate estimate to the public, claiming that the rejection allowed him to tweet the number.

2- The Guardian newspaper published on the same day, March 15th, 2020, under “Egypt rate of Coronavirus cases likely to be higher than figures suggest,” stating that an infectious diseases specialist from the University of Toronto provides grim picture of possible spread. Although it is not clear to us if Dr. Bogoch is the source of this information, the name of your respected university was mentioned for credibility and the name of Dr. Bogoch was mentioned as the source of the estimate. The article, as you may expect, caused undue panic among Egyptians and outraged us for seeing such odd and irresponsible behavior.

3- Mr. Declan Walsh, the author of the Guardian article and New York Times correspondent in Egypt tweeted the same number (19,000), quoting Dr. Bogoch and adding to the panic. He later removed his tweet and indicated that the lower estimate is 6,000.

4- Even if the paper had been accepted, newspapers would still have had to observe the news embargo, which prevents them from publishing such figures until the paper is released. Dr. Bogoch violated all the scientific norms of integrity by tweeting these numbers, which were later retracted by him and the author of the newspaper article, but only after causing significant damage to Egyptian society.

Out of our respect to the University of Toronto and its great scientists, we would like the university to investigate Dr. Bogoch for scientific misconduct and take the necessary action against him. We reserve the right to file a lawsuit against him, the Guardian newspaper and the University of Toronto.

Within these unprecedented global conditions, scientists should lead the public with integrity and responsibility. We fully trust that the University of Toronto will not allow such misconduct to tarnish its name.

With our best regards,

Dr. Farouk El-Baz
Director Emeritus
Center for Remote Sensing
Boston University
Boston, USA

Kamal N. Ibrahim
Clinical Professor,
Past-Chief, Pediatric Orthopedics & Scoliosis,
Past-President
Loyola University
Loyola University Medical Center
Scoliosis Research Society
Chicago, USA

Dr. Ossama Hamdy
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology
Harvard Medical School
Boston, USA

Mohamed Attalla
Executive Director
University of Illinois and Faculty at its Institute of Sustainability, Energy and the Environment

Dr. Amro Hassanein
Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Environmental Science and Technology
University of Maryland

Dr. Victor Gad
CEO / Owner
Enjoy Rehab Group
NYC, USA

Dr. Nabil Fanous
Chief of the division of facial plastic surgery, Associate Professor of OTL/Head and Neck surgery
Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCSC)
Mcgill University
Montreal, Canada

Salwa Morcos Gendi
MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Cardiology
ACHD Program Director
West Virginia University
WV, USA

Dr. Sam Tanas
Cytologist
NewYork-Presbyterian Methodist Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center
NY, USA

Dr. Irene Gad
Pham.D
Pharmacist
NY, USA

Dr. Ashraf Boutros
Attending Anesthesiologists
NYU Winthrop Hospital
NY, USA

Dr. Naser Tawfik
Pham.D
Pharmacist
Baldwin Pharmacy
NY, USA

DR. Evoun Ghaly
DVM
S. Merck
NY

Prof. Dr. Ragab Ragab
Principal Hydrologist and Water Resources Specialist
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
UK

Dr. Essam Girgawy MD
Infectious Disease Physician Specialist
Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital
Texas, USA

Dr. Raif Elsakr
MD FACP
Gastroenterologist
Gastro ONE
California, USA

Dr. Atef Tawfik MD
Family Medicine Specialist
OSF St Anthony Medical Center
California, USA

Dr. Sherif Azer MD
Anesthesiologist at Loma Linda University Medical Center
Associate Professor at Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Loma Linda University Medical Center
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
California, USA

Dr. Ashraf El Fiky, MD PhD
Medical Officer – EMMES
Rockville, MD – USA

Dr. Mohamed Fahmy
MBBCh, MSc, FRACGP
General Practice Specialist
Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Dr. Hanan Khalifa
Director Education Transformation & Alliances Cambridge Assessment
University of Cambridge
UK

Professor Raafat Mansour
Canada Research Chair
University of Waterloo
Canada

Dr. Amr E Abdelmonem
Chief Technicall officer and Chief Operating officer
ISCO international
USA

Dr. Tarek Hegazy
Prof. of Civil Engineering
University of Waterloo
Canada

Dr. Samir Kamal
Chairman
Ascendiente Consulting
San Francisco, USA

Sherif Hanna
M.D., F.R.C.S.C
Associate Professor
General Surgery
Special interest in hepatobiliary, pancreatic and GI cancer
Toronto University
CANADA

Dr. Maged Hanna
MD, PhD,
Assistant professor of Orthopedics
University of Toledo medical Center
Toledo, US

Professor Moataz Attalah
Professor
The University of Birmingham
UK

Ehab Hassanain
Family Medicine
NYC, USA

Dr. Amro Labib
Breast & General Surgeon
Wexford Medical Centre
Perth, Australia

Maher Abou-Guendia
Retired Senior Canadian Diplomat
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Global Affairs Canada)
Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Yassaer Hessein Abdou
Consultant Cardiologist
UNIVERSIDAD ALFONSO X EL SABIO
Madrid, Spain

Maysa Hayward
Associate Vice president
Ocean County College
New Jersey, USA

Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Azmi
President of North American Consulting Group
Retired from City University of New York
North American Consulting Group
USA

Dr. Nashwa Hussein
Academic Consultant
North American Consulting Group
USA

Dr. Ahmed Foud
Chief of cardiology
Salvea Center
Spain

Dr. Ahmed Adel
CEO
Solabolic GmbH
Austria

Dr. Alfred Sidhom
Senior Urological Surgeon
Orange County
CA, USA

Professor Abdel-Moez Bayoumi
Associate Dean and Director of the McNair Aerospace Cener
University of South Caroline
SC, USA

Nader N. Hanna
MD
Professor of Surgery
Medical Director, UM St.Joseph
Medical Center Cancer Institute
University of MD Medical Center
USA

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Abdelwahab
Consultant of Clinical Chemistry, MOH
Kuwait

Dr. Sidky Mohammad Ali Abdelmoaty
MD, FRCS
Consultant Pediatric Ophthalmologist
Kuwait

Dr. Hani Abo Shanb
Consultant surgery
King Abdulaziz hospital
KSA

Dr. Reda Al Sharef
Consultant Critical care
King Abdulaziz hospital
KSA

Dr. Ahmed Zekry
Consultant ENT
King Abdulaziz hospital
KSA

Professor Mamdoh Zidan
Prof radiology
Consultant Radiology
Alexandria University
King Abdulaziz Hospital
Egypt
KSA

Dr. Gamal Foud
Consultant obstetric and gynecology
King Abdulaziz Hospital
KSA

Professor Tamer Mahrous
Professor of pediatric surgery
Consultant pediatric surgery
Cairo University
KSA
Egypt

Dr. Ahmed Ammar
Professor and Consultant Neurosurgery
Co-Chairman the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies’ Ethics Committee
General Secretary of the International Society for Neurosurgical Technology and Instrument Invention
King Fahd University Hospital
The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies
KSA

Dr. Yaser Mohammed Allan
Consultant orthopedic
KSA

Dr. Osama Farouk Abdelfatah
Consultant orthopedic
KSA

Dr. Hasan Saad
Consultant Urology
KSA

Dr. Elhosieny Rashad
Physician
KSA

Dr. Mohammed AlAbd
Consultant pediatric
KSA

Dr. Mohammed Nasef AlSawy
Consultant ICU
UAE

Dr. Hesham Rashad Ashour
ICU specialist
KSA

Dr. Galal Shalabi Abdelnabi
Consultant ICU
UAE

Dr Al Sayed Eid Mahmoud
ICU specialist
UAE

Dr. Ahmed Saad Ahmed
Consultant Anesthesia
KSA

Dr. Nada Megahed
Advisor to UOB President
Assistant Professor at Deanship of Research
University of Bahrain
Bahrain

Dr. Ahmed abdelaziz Mohamed Marzouk
Specialist nephrology
Oman

Dr. Abdelaziz Bader
Consultant Anesthesia
KSA

Dr. Mohammed Alghanam
ICU specialist
KSA

Dr. Khaled Mohamed krson
ICU specialist
KSA

Dr. Mohamed Abd El Hamid Dawoud
Professor at The National Water Research Center and Water Resources Consultant
The National Water Research Center
UAE

TAMER OSAMA GAMALY
Consultant Ophthalmologist
MAGRABI Eye Hospitals & Centers
UAE

Dr. Mohamed Ezzat ABDELNAIEM
Consultant pediatrics
Quality and patient safety Director
Almana General Hospitals
KSA

Prof. MOHAMED A.K.El Massry.
MBBCh, MSc., BDS.MD.
Professor of Craniomaxillofacial Surgery & Plastic Surgery.
Consultant CMF & Plastic Surgery, MOH.
Alexandria University
MOH
Kuwait

Dr. Ayman Farouk Abdelaziz
Cardiology consultant
Lecture of cardiology
Reviewer
Instructor in medication safety program.
King Abdulaziz Hospital
King Saud university for health science
King Abdulah International Research Center
KSA

Dr. Mostafa Borei
Associate professor
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
USA

Dr. Ashraf El Fiky
MD, PHD
Medical Officer
EMMES
USA

Hamdy Awad
MD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
USA

Abed Elkeshk
Executive Vice President & Treasurer
Chief Financial Officer
College of Mount Saint Vincent
NYC, USA

Dr. Ayman Mohamad Kamal Ahmad
Rediatrician
Almana General Hospital
KSA

cc. Dr. Kevin Smith, CEO of UHN

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