Des essais ont commencé au Royaume-Uni pour savoir si les chiens peuvent être entraînés à détecter Covid-19. En cas de succès, les canines de bio-détection pourraient être utilisées comme un moyen "non invasif" pour identifier les personnes atteintes de coronavirus.
Des chercheurs de la London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) réaliseront la première phase de l'essai, en collaboration avec l'association caritative Medical Detection Dogs et l'Université de Durham. Il sera financé par l'argent d'un pot du gouvernement britannique de 500 millions de livres sterling (605 millions de dollars) mis en place pour aider "schémas innovants" dans la lutte contre Covid-19.
Dogs are famous for their incredible sense of smell and have been used for years to detect drugs and explosives, as well as to locate missing persons. Recent research suggests that some dogs can detect certain forms of cancer in humans, as well as diseases such as malaria and Parkinson’s disease.
Medical Detection Dogs says there is evidence that dogs, each able to screen up to 250 people per hour, can be trained to detect the smell of the disease “at the equivalent dilution of a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic water pools. “
“Bio-detection dogs are already detecting specific cancers and we believe this innovation could provide rapid results as part of our broader testing strategy”, said Minister of Innovation Lord Bethell.
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The hope is that the dogs, Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, will be able to identify the new coronavirus even on asymptomatic carriers.
The United Kingdom has the fourth highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, with almost 237,000. The fatal pathogen has killed just under 34,000 people in Britain. Initially criticized for its slow reaction to the virus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked the country in late March. These lockouts have been relaxed this week, but some restrictions will remain in place for at least the summer.
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