Dogs to be trained to sniff out coronavirus carriers
Dogs are to be trained to try to sniff out the coronavirus before symptoms appear in humans, under trials launched with £500,000 of government funding.
Dogs have already been successfully trained to detect the odour of certain cancers, malaria and Parkinson’s disease, and a new study will look at whether labradors and cocker spaniels can be trained to detect Covid-19 in people.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will carry out the first phase of a trial in collaboration with Durham Universityand the charity Medical Detection Dogs.
The initial stage of the research will see odour samples collected from coronavirus patients in London hospitals. Six specialist dogs will then undergo training to identify the virus from the samples.
Lord Bethell, the minister for innovation, said the government believed the dogs “might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy”.
The project’s lead researcher, Prof James Logan, head of the department of disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and, with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria.