LONDON: It is common knowledge that the dog’s sense of smell, far superior to humans, can be used for a number of causes that benefit society.
At airports around the world, dogs are used to inspect people and goods for signs of illegal drugs and other illicit goods, while some races are also used by police forces to help track fugitives or find missing persons.
But trials in the UK are currently investigating whether the dog’s sense of smell can help detect cases of COVID-19, something that can revolutionize the process of screening people for viruses.
The trial, conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Durham University and the Medical Dog Detection charity, has been allocated £ 500,000 ($ 605,185) by the UK government to assess the use of dogs as a non-invasive method of virus detection.
The trial is expected to last for up to three months, while similar trials have also been launched in France and the US.
Six dogs – labradors and cocker spaniels – will be taught to distinguish between the scents given by people with COVID-19, and those without disease, with various samples each given.
Samples will be presented to six dogs with cotton and other sources, including used face masks.
The use of dogs to detect medical conditions, although not as famous as their use in border surveillance and surveillance, is not new – certain breeds can be taught to detect malaria, Parkinson’s disease, and some cancers. They are known as “bio-detection dogs.”
If experiments in the UK prove successful, it is estimated that a dog can screen 250 people per hour for COVID-19, which speeds up the process at the airport and elsewhere.
“They have the potential to help by screening people quickly, which can be vital in the future,” Dr. Claire Guest, co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs.
“We are sure our dogs will be able to find the smell of COVID-19, and we will then move to the second stage to test them in living situations, after that we hope to work with other institutions to train more dogs to be placed. We are very proud that a dog’s nose can save many lives. “
James Logan, head of the disease control department at LSHTM, said: “If successful, this approach could revolutionize the way we detect viruses, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.”
British Innovation Minister James Bethell said the use of dogs in other medical environments to detect disease gave the government hope that the experiment could produce results and provide “quick” results.
“Accuracy is very important,” he added, “so this experiment will tell us whether ‘COVID dogs’ can reliably detect viruses and stop their spread.”
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