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.
Insect Technology Startup InsectSense Researchers Wageningen University in the Netherlands announced at 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 team said, the bees were rewarded in a water-sugar solution whenever they were exposed to an infected sample, the bees spread their tongues to it to obtain the solution.
Bees, due to their sensitivity to smells, can train in minutes to detect birds and scents, then associate the reward with positive samples and start sticking out their tongues after exposure to the scent alone. COVID-19, the researchers said.
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 will be adopted in low-income countries where access to PCR testing 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, who led the research. The Washington Post.
“Bees are everywhere and the device is not very complicated,” he added.
Although the results of the study have not yet been published in a journal or peer-reviewed, Van der Boyle told the newspaper that he believes testing bees for COVID-19 may achieve an accuracy rate of about 95% using multiple insects per sample.
“Our first goal was to show that we can train the bees to do that, and that’s what we did,” he told the newspaper. “We are now calculating and 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 He was using specially trained dogs to sniff out base workers at a race 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 For six months.