Dogs can detect the smell of COVID-19 with an accuracy of up to 94%, reveals British study

Dogs have the ability to detect the smell of COVID-19.

Photo: Medical Detection Dogs / Neil Pollock / EFE

Biosensor dogs can identify the odor of COVID-19 with an accuracy rate of up to 94%, according to a preliminary study by the British association Medical Detection Dogs published this Monday.

The research, conducted together with the School of London Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, used samples from more than 3,750 people, such as used shirts, masks and socks, to train six dogs to detect COVID-19.

The initial results, still pending external review by other scientists, suggest that the dogs were able to identify the disease in 94% of cases, a higher precision than that offered by antigen tests, between 58 and 77%.

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The preliminary study also reflects that a single dog can examine up to 250 people in an hour, considerably faster than other COVID-19 detection methods, experts say.

Research indicates that trained dogs could be of great help as a first rapid detection tool in public spaces, such as airports, if used in conjunction with traditional methods, such as PCR tests, to confirm results.

“Knowing that we can harness the amazing power of a dog’s nose to detect COVID-19 quickly and non-invasively gives us hope of returning to a more normal way of life,” Claire Guest, Scientific Director, said in a statement. of Medical Detection Dogs and lead author of the trial.

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In the study, the dogs – four Labradors, a Golden Retriever and a Working Cocker Spaniel – sniffed samples on a support system that required a “yes or no” decision in each case.

If they identified the presence of COVID-19, the dogs gave directions such as sitting, pushing or staring ahead, and if they were right, they were rewarded with food or toys.

Keep reading: The difficult decision whether or not to vaccinate children against COVID-19


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