COVID-19 coronavirus detection might be getting easier, with a new project in the works that is training dogs to sniff out coronavirus.
The new project is the only one in the world training dogs to sniff out coronavirus, with the Medical Detection Dogs charity, the London School of Hygiene, as well as the Tropical Medicine and Durham University. The dogs will be given clothes and fabric worn by coronavirus patient, to see if the dogs can pick up a particular odour that would eventually be able to sniff out and identify someone with coronavirus.
Dr Claire Guest, CEO and founder of the Medical Detection Dogs charity explained: "There have already been so many fantastic achievements in the dogs' work to detect human disease, and I believe they can be trained to sniff out Covid-19. When resources and testing kits are low, hundreds of people can't be tested in one go. But the dogs can screen up to 750 people really quickly. By identifying those who need to be tested and self-isolate, they can stop the spread".
Dr. Guest continued, adding: "They offer a fast, effective and non-invasive way to ensure limited NHS testing resources are used only where they are really needed. The dogs can help make a profound impact on the spread of this deadly disease. Their ability is incredible".
How would the dogs work? Professor James Logan, Head of the Department of Disease Control at the LSHTM explains: "They would work almost in a triage-type scenario. When ports begin opening, we will want to know if people have it. As you might see drug detection dogs walking up and down the line, the same would happen with Covid dogs looking for the infection. If they give us the information, we will advise people to self-isolate. Longer term, we could use them in schools or places where there are large numbers of key workers".
Professor Logan added: "We are crowdfunding to raise 1 million pounds, which will allow us to scale up the project. But we need around half to initially train up the dogs and prove it works, so we can still make a lot of progress before we reach our target".
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