Mr Cox 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.”  

One of the issues facing researchers in Tanzania looking to run trials for rats to detect the virus is the shortage of available cases needed to test the rats ability. 

As of September 25, a total of 509 cases have been recorded in the country with 21 recorded deaths.   

The team are also looking at using rats to detect wildlife products smuggled out of East Africa and for identifying  the presence of brucella, a bacteria found in  unpasteurized milk causing flu-like symptoms.   

After 9 months of training, HeroRats are capable of detecting 200 individual substances within the space of half an hour. 

The seven-year-old rat Magawa had sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in his career.

The UK veterinary charity PDSA presented him with its Gold Medal for “life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia”.

There are thought to be up to six million landmines in the southeast Asian country.

PDSA’s Gold Medal is inscribed with the words “For animal gallantry  or devotion to duty”. Of the 30 animal recipients of the award, Magawa is the first rat.

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