How many people can France test each week after deconfinement? The figure is not yet clear, even though the government expects 700,000 tests per week starting Monday, May 11.
So maybe to test, the government can turn to … dogs. In fact, five Malinois shepherds from the Seine-et-Marne fire brigade are currently being trained by the Maisons-Alfort veterinary school to sniff the virus.
According to Dominique Grandjean, professor at the veterinary school, the breed of the dog does not matter in this experiment.
“All dogs are able to work like that and use their noses. The canine breed has such an olfactory faculty that the breed does not matter. We have a dominant Belgian Malinois shepherd, German shepherds, but we might as well have labradors, hunting dogs .. ”, he explains.
The first step is first to verify that people with coronavirus have a “special” odor.
“We used an Alabama study a few years ago. They had successfully used dogs to screen for cattle diseases. We had to determine what types of samples we were going to do to train the dogs. We turned to sweat because it is the only excreta that does not carry the virus in infected people. So we take sweat under the arms. Then we train the dog, that is, put the smell in his nose. And then we will start to compare with smells, sweats that come from negative patients and we will see what is going on, « he explains.
Check the reliability of the tests
In procedure, it’s much the same as when a dog is trained to detect explosives. If the test and training of the dogs have not been completed, a first positive result should be noted. “We know there is a specific scent. And that was the big stranger, « he said.
« What will take longer is the validation phase. We will have to multiply the samples, we multiply the passages of the dogs and that we note each time that we have a false positive or a false negative. And we will have to see what reliability we can have, ”says Dominique Grandjean.
The experiment is conducted simultaneously on three sites: Maisons-Alforts, South Corsica and Beirut in Lebanon.