Dogs Pick Up the Scent of Covid-19, Initial Study Finds
Researchers find dogs could sniff out Covid-19 after 6-8 weeks of training.
Six dogs detected the smell of the coronavirus on clothing and masks in a Phase 1 trial by scientists, CNN reports.
The collaborative study between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Durham University and the group Medical Detection Dogs found the canines’ sensitivity rate in smelling was 82% to 94% under controlled conditions.
James Logan, who led the testing, says the results are encouraging. "Dogs could detect Covid with incredible speed and accuracy --- even if a person was asymptomatic."
Chemical analysis has found a "distinct" smell associated with the virus and researchers are working to identify the chemicals that make up the odor.
The dogs could also tell if someone didn’t have Covid-19. That "specificity rate" also ranged between 76% to 92%.
Study authors still say the PCR test is the “gold standard” for detecting the virus but suggest that dogs could offer a faster and simpler way to screen people in high-traffic areas --- or prevent individuals from going to crowded venues.
The six pooches who particpated in the study included Golden Retrievers, Labradors and a Cocker Spaniel, all between the ages of 4 and 6 years old.
Phase 2 of the study will test the dogs’ detection abilities on people actually infected with the virus rather than items of clothing.