Dog may be capable of detecting COVID
A recent study has revealed that dogs may be capable of detecting COVID through sniffing skin swabs.
It’s been discovered that dogs are capable of smelling a huge variety of things including bombs, drugs and cancer. According to a CTV News article published last month, a study out of Finland had four dogs trained to determine if someone had COVID-19 through sniffing.
The dogs involved in the experiment which was published in BMJ Global Health were 92 percent accurate.
“Scent dogs can provide an invaluable tool for limiting viral spread during a pandemic, serving for example at air and seaports,” said Anu Kantele, a professor of infectious diseases and chief physician at the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital.
These dogs correctly identified COVID-negative passengers in airports nearly every time.
“Such a reliable, cheap approach to rapidly screen a vast number of samples or to identify passing virus carriers from a large crowd is of value particularly when the testing capacity with traditional approaches is insufficient.”
Many researchers and organizations have suspected that dogs could be able to detect COVID-19 through smell but this study was one of the first to actually test it out in the real world.
Firstly, the dogs were taught how to identify different COVID-positive samples. Then, they were tested within a laboratory before being brought to an airport where they screened real-time passengers.
Three of the four dogs are Labrador retrievers named Silja, Rele and Kosti. The fourth is E.T., a white Shepherd and all dogs had previously been trained with scent work.
Samples used came from patients through Helsinki University Hospital. Skin samples are strips of gauze with swabs from patients necks, foreheads and wrists.
Dogs were also trained to detect COVID over factors including asthma, cancer and diabetes.
If a dog believed it had found a positive test, they would send a special signal to their handler.
At the second stage in the laboratory, none of the dogs, handlers or researchers were aware of which samples were positive or negative.
A total of 420 samples were sniffed including 114 positives and 306 negatives and this is where the dogs achieved a 92 per cent success rate in identifying them.
During the last stage which took place at Helsinki-Vantass International Airport, more than 10,000 people participated between September 2020 and April 2021. The dogs identified 48 people with COVID-19.
303 employees and travellers also agreed to take PCR tests as well as give a skin swab to the dogs for sniffing. Results showed that the dogs were 98.7 per cent right when identifying if these samples were negative.
It was determined that dogs can easily identify COVID-19 with a very high accuracy rate
“Our research group will continue to study how scent dogs can best help our society. We hope that this newly published study will help to allocate funds for the development of this new ‘tool’,” Anna Hielm-Björkman, leader of the DogRisk research group and one of the authors of the study.
“There are many other diseases where research could benefit from the excellent sense of smell that these dogs possess.”
More studies need to be done.