En France, dogs specializing in the search for explosives or narcotics have already been trained in the detection of Covid-19. But Dutch researchers believe they have succeeded in instilling this skill in other animals: bees. These insects also have great olfactory capacities and would be much easier to train. For the authors of the experiment, it could help fight the virus around the world, reports the HuffPost.
The experiment was carried out by scientists from the Wageningen Bioveterinary Research research institute in partnership with the start-up InsectSense. Some 150 bees have been trained to recognize the virus using the Pavlovian technique. Exposed to Covid-19, bees react by producing a certain odor themselves. Scientists therefore offered the insects sugar water each time they came into contact with a sample positive for Covid-19. Thus, a bee exposed to the virus informs its congeners that a reward is nearby.
Easy to implement
The results would have been very conclusive with few false positives. InsectSense boasts a method that is both simple and inexpensive. Because when it takes weeks of work for a police dog, the bees would only take a few minutes to pick up their habits. In addition, bees are found all over the world.
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“InsectSense has already developed prototypes of a machine that can automatically train multiple bees simultaneously and a biosensor that deploys trained bees for diagnosis. This technology can be a very effective diagnostic system for low-income countries, faced with difficulties in accessing infrastructure and high technologies, ”defends the company on its site. However, it can be assumed that more tests will be necessary before considering applying the concept to a public health strategy.