To start the tests, nothing is missing.
The trainers are still waiting for what they call “the material”.
“The compresses must be wedged under the armpit of patients, at Ajaccio hospital, for about twenty minutes, before being collected by the nurses, put in a sterilized jar, and transported for the education of the dog. “, explains use veterinarian-commander Aymeric Benard.
A compress under the armpit
Once the compresses have been received, for eight days, the dogs will be trained. We are going to present them with compresses, some charged with the scent of coronavirus patients. And others, which will be negative. When the dog designates the correct compress, it will be rewarded.
Then, it will be necessary, during one week, to multiply the checks so that the statistics validate the first tests.
The last step will be to present the results to the authorities.
Dogs to diagnose patients
“Okay, now it remains to be proven that the smell exists. But I’m pretty sure we’ll get there”, smile on doctor Dominique Grandjean.
The man who came up with the idea of training dogs to detect the virus.
The sentence does not sound like mere wishful thinking.
Dominique Grandjean is a professor at the renowned national veterinary school in Alfort, colonel of the Paris fire brigade in charge of fire fighting teams, and technical advisor for the Île-de-France defense zone.
A recognized authority in the cynothechnic field.
Now remains to prove that the smell exists
A few months ago, when covid-19 appeared, Dominique Grandjean learned that the University of Auburn, Alabama, proved that dogs can detect mucosal diseases in cows.
The veterinarian tells himself that there is no reason that they cannot do the same thing with men, thanks to the olfactory traces that the virus would leave.
200 million olfactory cells, compared to 5 million in humans
So he launched a call on facebook, asking if technical managers across the country are ready to participate in this test.
“Whoever does nothing has nothing, and then when I see the misery in which we find ourselves in terms of tests, I tell myself that we will be useful”.
In Ajaccio, the veterinarian-commander Benard refers to his hierarchy, which supports him.
“It is on an experimental basis, we have no certainty of achieving our ends, but at least we will have tried. All the more, and it matters, that it costs nothing, and that it doesn’t there’s no risk to anyone. ”
Ajaccio hospital responds very quickly.
The gendarmerie also provides assistance, for the technical aspects, “as well as SIS 2B, which will join the protocol”.
The University of Corte could also participate.
“There is a desire to set up a larger project, and therefore laboratory research, on the scent that the dogs have detected. This could make it possible to check if there is a compound systematically present in the” covids ” , and not with others “, specifies Doctor Benard.
It costs nothing, and no one risks anything
However, the heart of the project remains dog detection of the sick.
It remains to be seen what use can be made of it.
But that, according to Dominique Grandjean, it is the results that will decide it.
“If dogs can detect the smell on people, standing, dressed, we can use it in airports, stations, and ports. If it was not, it could be a welcome addition to the tests laboratory, easy to implement and inexpensive. And then we can give the recipe to train dogs in countries that need it, such as Africa for example … “.
Corsica, first volunteer
For the time being, apart from Paris, Corsica is the only region taking part in the process.
In France anyway.
Lebanon, under the aegis of Professor Riad Sarkis, of the Franco-Lebanese University of Beirut, has been involved from the start.
And last night, the United Arab Emirates confirmed to Colonel GrandJean that they were joining the trials.
Belgium, Brazil and Argentina should be next on the list.
“All will follow the same working protocol, the results will add up … And the fact that different ethnic populations take part in these trials is important. Our sweat glands are not the same, and dogs will have to be trained in according to ethnicity “.
Test findings in three weeks
When you ask Dominique Grandjean if he has discussed it with the government, or with the Directorate General of Health, the answer is clear.
“I only contact serious people. It takes them a long time to react, there is too much waiting, on all floors. We didn’t ask anyone for money. Our project is based on motivation people, their goodwill. And if we get results, they will end up listening. ”
Colonel Grandjean estimates that these results, verified and validated, could be known in three weeks.