Six dogs detected the smell of the coronavirus on clothing and masks in a phase 1 study conducted by scientists, reports CNN.
The joint study between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Durham University and the Medical Detection Dogs Group found that dogs’ odor sensitivity under controlled conditions was 82% to 94%.
James Logan, who led the tests, says the results are encouraging. “Dogs were able to detect COVID with incredible speed and accuracy, even when a person was not experiencing symptoms.”
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Chemical analysis found a “distinctive” odor associated with the virus, and researchers are working to identify the chemicals that make up the odor.
Dogs could also tell if someone didn’t have COVID-19. This “specificity rate” was also between 76% and 92%.
The study’s authors still say that the PCR test is the “gold standard” for detecting the virus, but they suggest that dogs could provide a quicker, easier way to screen or target people in high-traffic areas prevent getting to crowded places.
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The six dogs that took part in the study included Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Cocker Spaniels, ages 4 to 6 years old.
Phase 2 of the study will test dogs’ detection skills on people who are actually infected with the virus, rather than on clothing.