Rats may be trained to sniff out coronavirus as scientists fight deadly disease

An army of rats could soon be employed to help in the fight against coronavirus – by being trained to sniff out the deadly virus.

Award winning rodents that this week received medals for their work sniffing out hidden explosive land mines could now be re-educated to uncover the Covid-19 virus.

African giant pouched rat Magawa won a George Cross medal this week after uncovering 39 laundries and 28 unexploded munitions this year thanks to her ultra-sensitive nose.

And now it is hoped the breed of rats – known as Hero Rats – could be given training to hone their nose to the chemical compounds present in coronavirus.

Scientists from Belgian-registered, Tanzania-based charity Apopo are confident they can give the vermin the training they need to join the global fight against Covid-19.

And anyone who thinks the plan sounds far fetched should be made aware the rodents have already proven themselves useful in sniffing out early cases of tuberculosis.

The rats were employed to sniff out the disease in patients in Tanzania – with The Sun reporting they could detect the virus in 40% more cases than hospital tests could.

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Now Apopo CEO, Christophe Cox, hopes the rats could uncover Covid-19 cases in a similar way.

He told the Telegraph: “The question always came up; can you train rats to detect Covid?

"I don’t know the answer yet, but for sure if dogs can do it, rats can do it.”

Mr Cox claims the rats can detect anything with a "unique odor-profile".

It seems it’s a tough training regime for the rodents – as the expert predicts it would take three months to get the animals trained up, and re-education fees would cost up to €10,000 (£9,126).

The charity admits there could be one flaw in their plan to help fight Covid-19 on a globals scale, however.

It said: "Travel restrictions would pose challenges for international deployment of trained rats, making it difficult to send our rats to other countries as a global Covid-19 diagnostic tool."

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