A very interesting experiment is carried out by the national veterinary school of Maisons-Alfort to detect people infected with the coronavirus. It was initiated by a professor from Alfort, Dominique Grandjean. The idea is disconcertingly simple. This is’use dogs’ noses to find out if someone has the disease, Covid-19, has symptoms or is asymptomatic.
We all know that dogs have a finely smelling smell that escapes us, poor humans. It is even the most developed sense of man’s best friend. The dog has 200 million olfactory cells when man has only 5 million. As they say, there is no photo.
This is why customs officials use dogs to detect, for example, the presence of drugs or banknotes in the luggage of traffickers. We even noticed that dogs are able to detect the presence of cancer cells in a human body. When there is a tumor somewhere, it releases metabolites, and a trained dog is able to react if it senses something. It would therefore not be the first time that these animals have entered the medical world to refer doctors.
The smell of coronavirus
However, all this requires a prerequisite: the coronavirus must have an odor. For the moment, the study is in progress. It started in early May and should deliver its first conclusions in a few days. But initial findings indicate that lThe dog reacts differently when there is a positive sample.
The tests are done in using the sweat of infected people. A dozen dogs are currently in training, mainly in Corsica since it is the Ajaccio gendarmerie which is at the forefront on the subject. The interest of the operation is that it would eventually set up mass screening, why not at airports. The idea may seem attractive on paper, but does not take into account other parameters.
Long dog training
First, the number of dogs likely to be used for public health. Difficult to assess how much it would take, but it is obvious that the ten dogs currently in training will not be enough.
Second, you don’t train a dog in this kind of exercise in 5 minutes. It takes time to make the animal understand that if it detects an infected person, it will be entitled to an additional pâté. Because if the dog has olfactory capacities superior to ours, as far as the brain is concerned, we are still far ahead. We can’t have it all.