NEWS

Scientists are training dogs to sniff out coronavirus in bid to slow deadly pandemic

An amazing innovation

Scientists are testing whether dogs can be trained to detect people with coronavirus to help slow the global pandemic.

Canines can already sniff out diseases like Parkinson’s and malaria, but it’s thought they could assist the fight against Covid-19 too.

The Medical Detection Dogs charity has partnered with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) on a trial to assess whether dogs can detect coronavirus in patients.

But first, the charity’s boss Dr Claire Guest said scientists had to work out how to safely get the scent from Covid-19 sufferers.

She said: ‘In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect Covid-19.’

Dr Guest said that if the trial were successful, sniffer dogs could help to ease the pressure on the UK’s NHS.

Currently in the UK, there are 22,141 confirmed cases and over 1,400 deaths.

She added: ‘This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.’

As well as busting drug smugglers and detecting bombs, canines are increasingly being used to sniff out diseases.

According to Professor James Logan, head of disease control at the LSHTM, dogs can detect the odour of malaria in humans with a level of accuracy above the diagnostic standards issued by the World Health Organisation.

Depending on the results of the trial, scientists say the dogs could be trained and deployed in just six weeks.

It comes as governments all over the world ramp up their testing efforts in a bid to crack down on coronavirus and ensure those infected remain indoors.

Worldwide, there are over 780,000 known cases, with the UK, USA, Spain and Iran struggling to get a hold on the skyrocketing death rates.

Related stories