Medical Detection Dogs is an organization that trains dogs to detect the odor of human diseases like cancer, malaria, and most recently the coronavirus. In collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University, plans are set to train dogs to detect the virus in a non-invasive diagnosis. Dogs are said to be ready in as early as 6 weeks to join the fight against the pandemic.
In previous training exercises for detecting cancer and Parkinsons, dogs sniffed samples in the training room and indicated when they found a change. The dogs will be trained to detect COVID-19 in the same way.
“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic and tell us whether they need to be tested. This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed,” Dr. Claire Guest, CEO, and Co-Founder of Medical Detection Dogs shares.
This would be especially helpful amongst travelers where dogs would be able to identify infected individuals in public spaces like airports.
Professor James Logan, Head of Department of Disease Control at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Director of ARCTEC, says, “Our previous work demonstrated that dogs can detect odours from humans with a malaria infection with extremely high accuracy – above the World Health Organisation standards for a diagnostic.
“We know that other respiratory diseases like COVID-19, change our body odour so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect it. This new diagnostic tool could revolutionise our response to COVID-19 in the short term, but particularly in the months to come, and could be profoundly impactful,” he continues.