These dogs are helping ‘sniff out’ COVID-19 for scientists
A charity has teamed up with scientists to see whether dogs can help detect COVID-19 via their sense of smell.
The so-called ‘Medical Detection Dogs’ will work with the UK’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durhum University to see if canines are capable of diagnosing patients.
Previously, dogs have proven they can sniff out malaria based on the fact that the disease triggers a distinct body odour that their keen smell can detect.
The organization says it takes six weeks to get dogs up to ‘Medical Detection’ status, and there are several currently in training for COVID-19 identification and “to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end of the epidemic’.
“Once trained, dogs could also be used to identify travellers entering the country infected with the virus or be deployed in other public spaces," Dr Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of the charity, said to The Metro.
"In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect Covid-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.”
The head of disease control at LSHTM said that there was a good chance of the medical detection dogs being able to detect COVID-19, as respiratory diseases often come with their own odour.
There have been more than 500,000 coronavirus infections so far, across 182 countries.
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