A new study by researchers in the UK has shown that specially trained dogs can detect COVID-19 in humans.
The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, showed that people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have a “distinct odour” that can be detected by trained dogs.
The study, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Durham University and the charity Medical Detection Dogs, found trained dogs could detect the virus “with up to 94.3% sensitivity and up to 92% specificity.”
Researchers said the dogs were trained to identify the specific odour caused by a positive diagnosis, using samples sent to the research team by members of the public and National Health Service staff.
“The dogs were trained over a number of weeks by introducing them to the odour samples from
individuals that had tested positive for COVID-19, as well as control samples from people who had tested negative,” researchers said. “Samples were presented to the dogs on a stand system and the dogs were rewarded for correctly indicating a positive sample, or for correctly ignoring a negative sample.”
Researchers said they believed the results could be “replicated in real-world settings.”
“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," said Dr Claire Guest, the chief scientific officer at Medical Detection Dogs. Credit: Medical Detection Dogs/Durham University/LSHTM via Storyful