• Super Sniffers go on Trial

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Super Sniffers go on Trial

Jun 18 2020

A specialist team of researchers have been awarded more than £500,000 by the UK Government to find out if specially-trained bio-detection dogs could be used as a new rapid testing measure for Covid-19.

The initial stage of the project, a collaboration between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, aims to determine whether the dogs are able to detect coronavirus in humans from odour sample, even if they are asymptomatic.

The team has previously worked together to successfully prove that dogs can be trained to sniff out the scent of malaria, while others have been shown to effectively detect specific conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and some cancers in humans with high levels of accuracy.

If the trial gathers sufficient evidence, the first set of dogs could be deployed to key points of entry into the UK within six months to assist with the rapid screening of people travelling from abroad.

The initial phase of the trial will see the collection of samples from NHS staff in London hospitals, following which six bio-detection dogs, a mixture of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, will undergo thorough training.

More than ten years of research by the charity, Medical Detection Dogs has shown that dogs, which could each screen up to 250 people per hour, can be trained to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water.

If successful, these dogs could provide a fast and non-invasive detection method to support additional testing efforts used for Covid-19.

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