Scientists train bees to identify coronavirus infection

A group of Dutch scientists is seeking help from an extraordinary group of participants for a new type of rapid COVID-19 test: bees trained specifically to detect the virus.

Researchers into an emerging insectSense technology and Wageningen University in the Netherlands announced that Press release This week, they trained more than 150 bees in a study to identify samples containing the virus responsible for COVID-19 based on its smell.

As part of the study, the group said, the bees were rewarded with a water-sugar solution whenever they were exposed to an infected sample, as the bees extended their tongues to obtain the solution.

The researchers said that the bees, due to their sensitivity to smells, can be trained in minutes to detect volatiles and odors, then associate the reward with positive samples and start purring their tongues after being exposed to the scent of COVID-19 alone. .

The scientists noted that the study showed very promising results, with only a few false positives and false negatives recorded.

According to the press release, InsectSense has developed a prototype of a machine capable of training bees to detect the virus, which scientists hope can be adopted in low-income countries where access to PCRT materials is limited.

“This technology is not available in all laboratories, especially in low-income countries,” said Wim van der Boll, a professor at Wageningen University. Washington Post.

“Bees are everywhere and the device is not very complicated,” he added.

Although the results of the study have yet to be published in a journal or peer-reviewed journal, Van der Boyle told the newspaper he believed that testing for COVID-19 in bees could reach an accuracy rate of around 95% using multiple insects per sample. .

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“Our first goal was to prove that we can train the bees to do this, and this is where we have succeeded,” he told the newspaper. “And now we’re calculating, and we’re continuing to work to see how sensitive the method is.”

Bee research comes as others have recruited dogs to help test for COVID-19, including NASCAR, which It was announced last month Using specially trained fangs would smell essential workers while racing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The same month, a Thai trainer running a program to help dogs detect the virus said the animals were able to do so. 95 percent accuracy More than six months.

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