Dogs being trained to sniff out Coronavirus

Six dogs have been selected to undergo a rigorous training programme to learn to sniff out COVID-19. Scientists believe that because of dogs incredible sense of smell, a half a second sniff could result in 90% accuracy in pinpointing someone with the virus.

Dogs have been used in the past for bomb, drug, malaria, Parkinson’s disease and cancer detection.  Their amazing sense of smell is around 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. Our canine friends have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to six million in the average human, the area in their brain that analyses scents is also proportionally 40 times greater than humans.

The six dogs chosen for this mission are Norman, Jasper, Digby, Storm, Star and Asher who are currently in the eight-week long training programme. The government has funded the initiative by £500,000, where scientists are using socks with samples of the virus on to train the dogs to COVID-19’s scent. The hope is that the trained dogs will be able to single out those who may be infected and could be more accurate than thermometer guns and infrared camera, as this technology often fails to catch those with mild symptoms or those who are asymptomatic. According to WHO, asymptomatic carriers could be responsible for up to 40% of the disease transmissions.

Sniffer dogs have already been in training in Germany since June, in a military led COVID-19 programme. Professor Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, who is leading the German based research said, “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients.”

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