Trials in the UK began to check whether specialist medical sniffer dogs can detect coronavirus in humans after a team of special “COVID dogs” was formed to detect symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, as per media reports. At least six dogs, which have already been deployed to sniff diseases such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease, will be given intensive training for detecting the COVID-19 positive patient.
From the odour samples, the mixture of Labradors and cocker spaniels would be deployed to screen up to 250 patients per hour after the thorough professional training, local media reported. The first phase of the trial, which will be led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with the charity and Durham University, would begin with 500,000 pounds funding. A team of bio-detection dogs will be used as new early warning measure to detect COVID-19. National Health Service (NHS) staff in London hospitals would collect odour samples from those infected with coronavirus and the not infected, healthy persons, media reports confirmed.
Charity's co-founder and chief executive, Claire Guest, reportedly said that the Medical Detection Dogs should be able to find the odour of COVID-19 as from the samples collected at the hospitals. Once that succeeds, she added, the dogs will then move into a "second phase” to test in live situations. And then, there would be a collaboration with more private agencies to train several such dog teams for deployment, she added.
James Logan, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was quoted as saying that work from the research gathered from more than 10 years suggested that diseases such as malaria have a distinctive odour. And, with medical detection dogs, the centres successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria. Therefore, this, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour makes medical detection of the COVID-19 by the dogs a possibility, he added.