Friday, June 18, 2021

FLASH: New research suggests dogs can detect Coronavirus carriers

“This work is encouraging and suggests that trained dogs will readily identify people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from lines of uninfected people.”

• June 2, 2021
dogs sniffing humans
A photo of a dog sniffing a person used to illustrate the story[Photo credit:DogHealth.com]

A new study in the UK has revealed that trained dogs can now sniff to detect COVID-19 in humans, Newsweek reports.

The study was led by UK based institutions; the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Durham University and the charity Medical Detection Dogs.   

The researchers try to find a rapid, accurate, non-invasive diagnostic screening to identify people infected with COVID-19.

According to the study, trained dogs could detect the virus with a sensitivity range of 82-94 per cent and a specificity range of 76-92 per cent.

Six dogs were presented with odour samples from 200 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, and 200 individuals whose tests were negative.

“The dogs were rewarded for correctly indicating a positive sample, or for correctly ignoring a negative sample,” according to the study.
After the experiment was concluded, the researchers explained that these results could easily be adapted for and used in real-world situations outside of the laboratory.

“Our recent work shows that dogs trained in the study readily transition from laboratory-sample testing to identifying people wearing shirts worn by people with SARS-CoV-2 (unpublished),” said the study. “This work is encouraging and suggests that trained dogs will readily identify people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from lines of uninfected people.”

The researchers also predict that dogs will continue to improve in both specificity and sensitivity in the real world, with those positive with SARS-CoV-2 providing a “larger and clearer” odour profile compared to what was used in the lab.

“These fantastic results are further evidence that dogs are one of the most reliable biosensors for detecting the odour of human disease. Our robust study shows the huge potential for dogs to help in the fight against COVID-19,”

Dr Claire Guest, who is a staff of Medical Detection Dogs said,  “Knowing that we can harness the amazing power of a dog’s nose to detect COVID-19 quickly and non-invasively gives us hope for a return to a more normal way of life through safer travel and access to public places, so that we can again socialise with family and friends.”

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