Dogs can detect COVID-19 among humans in less than a second, UK study finds

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Bharat SharmaUpdated: May 24, 2021, 07:43 PM IST


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Now, humans' best friends are set to fulfil the role given to them!

Dogs may be humanity’s next weapon to weed out the COVID-19 pandemic. Infections of coronavirus tend to jump tremendously if restrictions are relaxed prematurely.  As evident in many countries like India, the human cost of COVID-19 could be beyond devastating and scientists want to employ whatever tools are available at hand.

Now, humans' best friends are set to fulfil the role given to them. A new study claims that dogs can detect coronavirus infections among people in less than a second. This method may in fact be quicker than a PCR test.

According to the research published in BMJ on Monday, people with COVID-19 tend to give off a particular odour. And that’s a dead giveaway to dogs, who possess a super sense of smell.

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet found that dogs were successfully able to detect coronavirus on clothes worn by those infected with 94.3 per cent sensitivity. This is way higher than the sensitivity shown by lateral flow tests at 58-77 per cent. PCR tests are more effective with 97.2 per cent sensitivity to infections.

But as opposed to PCR tests which can take hours to make the diagnosis, dogs were able to sniff out virus in less than a second.

“This includes people who are asymptomatic and also people with a low viral load,” The Guardian quoted Professor James Logan of LSHTM, who co-led the study as saying.

The dogs employed in the daunting task of sniffing out Covid came from a charity called “Medical Detection Dogs” which was formed in 2008. The charity undertakes training of companion dogs that can successfully detect odour changes in people in people that develop diabetes and other ailments. 

The dog’s response can help them seek care early which can save many lives. The charity also researches the ability of dogs to sniff out cancers and Parkinson’s, among many diseases. During the onset of the pandemic, the charity had completed a study with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), showing that malaria can be effectively detected by dogs.