Faced with the threat of infection from coronavirus mutations, Health Authorities in Thailand have now deployed a canine squad to detect the lethal virus. The special dog squad, which consists of six Labradors, has been given special training to sniff out an odour that COVID-19 patients might give off. Researchers at the Veterinary Faculty at Chulalongkorn University, who trained the dogs, have said that the results so far have been impressive and the method could bolster the country’s COVID response if continued.
Thailand, with its cramped up prison cells and cluttered marketplaces, has been seeking methods to detect and slash the coronavirus virus. The Southeast Asian state, famous for its tropical beaches, is now battling hard to keep its economy afloat. On May 21, it detected its first case from coronavirus variant first detected in India, pushing its COVID caseload to 126,118 with over 759 dead. Meanwhile, Thailand has so far administered 2.2 million doses of vaccine to front-line workers and high-risk groups.
As per the researchers, trained Labradors need only a few seconds to detect whether the person had contracted the infection or not. For this purpose, the dogs are made to sniff sweat samples placed in metal containers. If the dog simply walks past the sample, then the person does not have an infection. However, if the canine sits in front of the sweat sample, the person is declared to have COVID-19.
The researchers have touted that this method could prove significant for those incapable of moving out of their houses for COVID testing. Suwanna Thanaboonsombat, a volunteer who collects samples told Associated Press that such people could simply put a cotton ball under their armpits to collect sweat samples and then send it to the labs. "People can simply put cotton balls underneath their armpits to collect sweat samples and send them to the lab. And the result is quite accurate," Suwanna said. The researchers now plan to send the canine team out to communities suspected of being new COVID-19 hotspots. The dogs will work inside a mobile unit, while the collecting team can comb through the community collecting samples, the researchers said.