Bees can detect COVID-19 positive people in seconds, even in areas with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air.

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2021-05-10 21:22:23

A Realtime PCR machine to test COVID-19 costs about 4-5 billion VND. Dutch scientists are wondering: Can they build a super-cheap biological test machine, to replace metal and plastic machines in finding specimens containing the SARS-CoV- virus? 2 or not?

The idea is to train the bees to become medical staff for COVID-19 testing. In comparison, a queen bee costs only 20 USD equivalent to 450,000 VND, bees usually cost less than 1 USD and an experimental beekeeping system costs just over 7 million VND.

At Wageningen University’s Bio-Veterinary Laboratory, researchers are keeping a colony of 150 such bees and training them to detect patient samples of COVID-19 patients.

If successful, it would be a test machine 500 times cheaper and 2,000 times faster than the Realtime PCR machine.

The scientists trained the bees by giving them a drink of a sugar solution every time they come into contact with the smell of a weasel contaminated with COVID-19. Conversely, when bees come into contact with an uninfected sample, they will not receive a reward.

In animal science, this is a process known as Pavlovian conditioning. Just by repeating this movement, the bees will automatically extend their nozzles when exposed to the smell of COVID-19, even if they don’t see any sugar water there.

By the end of the training, bees at Wageningen University were able to identify a sample COVID-19 in seconds, compared with a few hours running a Realtime PCR. And then, at the end of the day, the scientists only need to pay them with a little sugar water.

Bees are not the first animals trained by scientists to detect samples COVID-19 with scent. Previously, several research groups have also trained dogs to distinguish COVID-19-positive human saliva or sweat samples.

The accuracy of these tests is quite high. A small German study showed that dogs can determine a patient sample positive for COVID-19 with up to 94% accuracy. This is because the metabolic changes caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus cause the infected person’s body fluids to smell slightly different from the fluids of healthy people.

Bees can detect COVID-19-positive people within seconds, even areas with SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air - Photo 2.

Dutch scientists train bees to detect COVID-19 with a Pavlovian regulator

Even so, scientists are still unsure whether trained animals are the best option for sniffing COVID-19 cases outside the lab?

Holger Volk, a veterinary neuroscientist, told Nature: “No one says they can replace a PCR, but what they do can be very promising“The PCR machine is what lab technicians use to process standard tests with a cotton swab. Its downsides are expensive, the test cost is high and time consuming. the specificity of the PRC assay is almost absolute, almost 100% accurate.

But trained animals can be used for COVID-19 testing in places where medical equipment is scarce or where modern machines are inaccessible. It can be used in remote areas, on islands, and in emergencies.

In addition, the scientists at Wageningen University are also working on a very interesting idea. They wanted to release the bees into a training machine to help them recognize the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the environment.

Bees can detect COVID-19 positive people in seconds, even in areas with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air - Photo 3.

A bee’s nose is actually more sensitive than a dog. Bees can detect volatiles with a sensitivity up to one part per trillion. For example, they can find a flower a few kilometers away thanks to its scent in the air.

Now, imagine you can drop a few bees into a room or an elevator in a building that has just been infected with COVID-19. The bee will then extend its trunk to tell you: “The air in this room contains the SARS-CoV-2 virus, don’t go in there and call the spraying team right away. “.

It is very interesting and promising, right?

Refer Businessinsider

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