COVID Sniffing Dogs Can Detect Coronavirus from Human Perspiration with up to 100% Success Rate, Study Says

A new proof-of-concept study shows that highly trained dogs can sniff off coronavirus on human perspiration from 177 patients from a hospital in Beirut, Lebanon as well as four hospitals in Paris, France. If this study works well, then dogs could not only protect humans from bombs or any drugs, but also from this deadly virus.

Helsinki Airport COVID-19 Sniffer Dogs

(Photo : Shoja Lak/Getty Images)
HELSINKI, FINLAND – SEPTEMBER 25: Airport signs illustrate the new COVID-19 canine test procedure on September 25, 2020 in Helsinki, Finland. A pilot study at Helsinki airport provides passengers with free coronavirus tests using dogs to detect infections by smell.

New study shows dogs can sniff off coronavirus from human perspiration

According to a National Interest article, six dogs were used on this study and they all underwent weeks of training to pick up specific smell of patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Surprisingly, the research, which was published in the PLOS One journal, turned out highly positive results from at least 76% up to 100% success rate for some dogs.

According to the authors of the study, while “these results provide some evidence that dogs may detect sweat samples from symptomatic COVID-19 individuals and discriminate them from those taken from asymptomatic individuals who are negative for coronavirus.

Unfortunately, authorities have received some reports of dogs getting infected with COVID-19. Thus, to ensure the canine’s safety, researchers did not use any samples 24-four hours since the collection to train or tests the dogs. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that there is still no proof that animals could significantly spread coronavirus to humans.

New study shows dogs can sniff off coronavirus from human perspiration with up to 100% success rate

(Photo : CDC/Unsplash)
New study shows dogs can sniff off coronavirus from human perspiration with up to 100% success rate

The researchers filmed the trials and they were able to understand the reason some dogs failed the tests as some factors may confuse these animals. For instance, a horse walked near a testing site located at a veterinary school. The animal may have confused the dog, leading to an unsuccessful test.

However, while these are only preliminary results, researchers admitted that they were limited and need further study. Yet, these promising evidences also suggest dogs could actually be a cheaper and more reliable way to screen COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, the authors explained that this does not intend to replace the traditional coronavirus testing processes. “Even if trained dogs are able to correctly discriminate symptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals from asymptomatic negative ones, they should not be considered a perfect diagnostic test,” said the authors adding that this could be a complementary to the existing procedures.

Read also: Singaporean Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence to Identify Optimal COVID-19 Combination Drug Treatment

COVID Sniffing dogs: How can they smell the virus?

Trainers worldwide are training dogs with special skillset for COVID-19 detection, and they claimed extraordinary results.  According to an article published in journal Nature, some dogs can detect coronavirus with nearly perfect accuracy.

Quito International Airport Reopens Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

(Photo : Franklin Jacome/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR – JUNE 01: A security guard walks alongside his dog in the waiting room at Mariscal Sucre Airport on June 1, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. Starting today, Mariscal Sucre International Airport resumes commercial flights. According to President of Quiport Andrew O’Brian flights will come back gradually depending on customers demands and airlines capabilties.

Since canine noses much higher scent receptors at 300 million, compared with humans’ 5 million or 6 million, the dogs could detect even tiny concentrations of odor that are invisible to human senses. This is also the reason sniffer dogs can detect drugs, firearms, and explosives. Meanwhile, scientists were also able to train dogs to detect some types of cancers and malaria, although they are not traditionally used for this purpose. 

Now, some countries already started utilizing these dogs’ special skillsets to further strengthen their viral detection. For instance, police dogs were trained to sniff out coronavirus on people in Chile while in September, a pack of COVID sniffing dogs in Finland was designated at Helsinki Airport.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom government already has allotted over $600,000 for a team of scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who is researching on whether these specially-trained sniffer dogs in airports could detect coronavirus in travelers before any symptoms appear.


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