Bees are trained to detect COVID-19 within seconds


Bees are trained to detect COVID-19 within seconds

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, early or real-time identification of SARS-CoV-2 infected people is vital in reducing or interrupting the infectious cascade.The current testing regimen requires nasopharyngeal swabs for the collection of samples and then running it in the RT-PCR for identification of pathogens, which can be time-consuming and cost-prohibiting. volatile compounds (VOCs) can be produced during respiratory infections, emitting certain scent imprints, that can be identified with great precision by other organisms.

Though famous for their honey, bees can be of other uses too, as they have tremendously sensitive olfactory receptors, with the power to sense volatile compounds that are present in extremely low quantities, that is;a range of parts per billion or parts per trillion. In an attempt to make the disease diagnosis affordable, researchers have now developed biosensors, that integrate the ability of bees to identify particular VOCs and can quickly and easily be trained. Insect Sense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research have trained honey bees for detection of COVID-19 (both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases) within few seconds. The bees are trained to extend their tongues on smelling coronavirus.

To train the bees, the researchers used the Pavlovian conditioning principle. They exposed the bees to the scent of infected mink (with COVID-19), and for reward, sugary water was given to them each time they smell coronavirus. Thus, the bees get trained to identify infected samples within a few seconds and stick out their tongue for taking sugar water. They can repeat the same action, every time they detect a positive sample

In an attempt to discover a faster, reliable, non-invasive, and versatile screening tool, some scientists have successfully trained dogs to identify the cases of COVID-19 from human saliva and sweat. The reason behind it is that metabolic changes from SARS-CoV-2 make the infected individual’s bodily fluid smell a little different than those who are not infected. The accuracy of these tests is yet to be confirmed on the larger sample size. Though it isn’t the replacement of PCT it can have promising results. Such methods could be useful for those countries, which can’t afford a large number of sophisticated equipment, have limited access to diagnostic tests, or have inaccessibility.The prototype developed by Wageningen can easily multiply and easily detect coronavirus aerosols in the air.


COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Violative organic compounds, Scent detection bees, olfactory detection, Saliva, bees, Insect Sense. Biobeterinary research