March 29, 2023

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Coronavirus: Top Iran general peddles fake bomb detector as tool to fight Covid-19

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is touting what appears to be the same fake bomb-detecting devices once used by Iraqi and Afghan security forces as a coronavirus fighting tool. 

Maj General Hossein Salami, the top official of the elite parallel branch of Iran’s military, was on state television on Wednesday presenting the hand-held devices as a disease-detection tool. They appear to be the same phoney bomb-detecting tools once sold by a convicted British fraudster James McCormick to Iraqi security forces, and that have for years popped up at checkpoints in Middle East countries. 

Once sold as novelty golf-ball detection devices, the useless plastic and metal items do little if anything. United States military personnel deployed to Iraq complained for years likened the devices to magic wands that could detect nothing.  

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But the devices, called the ADE 651, keep appearing throughout developing countries as gadgets with seemingly supernatural properties. The Egyptian military in 2013 peddled a similar device as a tool for detecting Hepatitis. 

Governments have for months been scrambling to create and distribute coronavirus testing kits and protocols, with some having less than stellar track records. Numerous governments have complained about tests made in China, where the virus likely originated, that have failed.

Scientists have been struggling to come up with a vaccine for coronavirus, while physicians throughout the world have been seeking to come up with treatments for Covid-19 stricken patients that amount to more than keeping them breathing while their immune systems fight off the illness. The World Health Organisation has said a vaccine isn’t expected for at least 12 months.

United States President Donald Trump, apparently egged on by right-wing television programmes, has been pushing the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure even as his own advisers caution there was little scientific basis for the claim. 

It remains unclear whether Mr Salami had been duped by underlings or was himself knowingly promoting a toy as a coronavirus-detection tool. 

In the television appearance, he describes the device as “technological and scientific” innovation developed by “student” members of the fanatical pro-regime Basiji militia, which often uses political networks to obtain coveted research and university posts for loyalists.

“The antenna of this device can detect any spot infected with the virus within a 100-meter radius,” he said, wearing a surgical mask and gloves while being interviewed. “It detects the virus within five seconds.”

He claimed that the device was an improvement over other coronavirus tests because “there’s no need for taking blood. You can accomplish this from a distance. He claimed the likely useless gadget was capable of “smart sanitising” areas in need of disinfection.

He claimed that the device had been tested at hospitals and had an “80 per cent” success rate.

Iran has been the country most hard-hit by the novel coronavirus in the Middle East. As of Wednesday it reported 76,389 confirmed cases and at least 4,777 deaths attributed to Covid-19.
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