You might be wondering how bees can discover COVID-19 patients. As stated by a press release from Wageningen University, researchers from the Netherlands have given training to bees to identify COVID-19 patients through a sense of smell. Read on to know more about the research and trained bees’ abilities.
The study was practiced on over 150 bees at a bio-veterinary research laboratory of Wageningen University.
Good News! Trained Bees Can Detect COVID Patients
Researchers trained bees by providing them food with sugar water. Each time bees were exposed to the scent of a mink that was infected with Coronavirus. Also, whenever bees were exposed to non-infected samples, they didn’t receive a reward. This process is called Pavlovian Conditioning.
Within a few seconds, the bees could discover an infected sample and stick out their tongues (similar to clockwork) to gather the sugar water.
Bees are not only the first creatures to identify COVID-19 patients by scent. Scientists also trained dogs to differentiate positive and negative COVID-19 samples with the help of human saliva or sweat in high accuracy.
Small German research discovered that dogs have the ability to find positive COVID-19 samples 94 percent of the time.
It is because of metabolic alterations from the COVID-19 virus, and it can make an infected person’s body fluids smell slightly different than those people who haven’t been infected.
However, scientists still can’t validate whether animals are perfect for identifying COVID-19 patients accurately outside of the laboratory.
Holger Volk, a veterinary neurologist, told Nature that nobody could replace the PCR machine, but we can depend on animals’ abilities. Lab technicians commonly use PCR machines to take standard COVID-19 swab tests.
With the hope of this study, some animals could be helpful to detect people who are infected with the COVID-19 virus in many countries where there is a scarcity or inaccessibility of high-tech equipment.
At present, Wageningen scientists are working on a project to create a machine that can automatically train multiple bees at once.