French scientists from the National Veterinary School in Alfort conducted a series of experiments to see if trained detection dogs can differentiate the odor of sweat produced by COVID-19 persons versus non-COVID-19 persons
At the end of May, the charity Medical Detection Dogs planned to train specialist sniffer dogs on the current coronavirus alongside Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). These dogs are already trained to recognize the scent of cancer, malaria, and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Claire Guest, owner of the charity said that the dogs needed to figure out how to ‘safely catch the odor of the virus from patients…in principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect Covid-19.’ Once proven, the specialist sniffers can screen even asymptomatic people. ‘This would be fast, effective, and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed,’ said Dr. Guest. They have high hopes as the team of canines were previously able to detect the odor of malaria with an accuracy level ‘above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic,’ said James Loga, a professor at LSHTM.
The new research trained 18 dogs, including eight Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs, on three different sights. The sniffed samples of the armpits from 360 participants, both infected and non-infected by the novel coronavirus with a success rate between 83% and 100%.
Professor Dominique Grandjean from the team said, ‘We conclude that there is strong evidence that dogs can detect a person infected by the virus responsible for Covid-19 disease.’
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