UK trains dogs to detect asymptomatic coronavirus carriers

  • Could screen 250 people an hour
  • Can already sniff out potential diseases like cancer and malaria

The United Kingdom is in the process of training dogs to ‘sniff’ out symptoms of coronavirus before they appear in humans.

Trials to see how the novel works out are to commence soon, according to the London Mail.

The UK government is supporting the landmark trials to the tune of £500,000 under its funding of vital research into early methods of detecting the virus.

If successful, the dogs could be used to sniff out up to 250 people an hour in a bid to ramp up testing.

The dogs, a mixture of labradors and cocker spaniels, can already identify deadly diseases including cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.

They will now undergo intensive training to spot Covid-19 before symptoms appear.

They will be trained using samples of people infected with coronavirus and those who are uninfected, as some respiratory diseases are known to change body odour.

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Research has revealed the dogs are able to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in an astonishing two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.

The first phase of the trials will be conducted by researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) and Durham University.

A hopeful Professor James Logan, head of the department of disease control at the LSHTM, is quoted as saying: “Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria,” he said.

‘This combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect Covid-19.”

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