After successful government support of trained dogs spotting specific cancers, The UK trials will aim to test and train dogs to diagnose the coronavirus.
Dogs who are already successfully trained to detect the odour of many different diseases in humans, such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease will be further tested to see if they can spot coronavirus.
Last month, popular news outlet, Mirror Online revealed that researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will begin the trial’s first phase in partnership with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University.
The trial will be backed by £500,000 of government funding.
Popular disease control experts from the universities with Medical Detection Dogs will come together to train the dogs – which includes a mixture of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, to see if they can diagnose what they are capable of.
UK’s Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell said:
“Bio-detection dogs already detect specific cancers and we believe this innovation might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy
“Accuracy is essential so this trial will tell us whether ‘covid dogs’ can reliably detect the virus and stop it spreading.”
The initial phase of the trial will lead to the NHS staff in London hospitals collecting odour samples from people who are infected with coronavirus and those who are uninfected.
It is also reported that the six detection dogs will then undergo disciplined, thorough training to identify the virus from the numerous samples that will be presented.
A 10-year detailed research gathered by Medical Detection Dogs has shown that the dogs, which could each screen up to 250 people per hour, could also be trained to detect the odour of some diseases equating it to a dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.
Professor James Logan, who is the lead researcher in this research said,
“Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria. This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect COVID-19.
A trial will take place in the UK where “covid dogs” will help detect people who may be infected with the virus.