Trained dogs can accurately detect people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid, according to new research.
The study, published in the BMJ Global Health Journal, reveals that trained sniffer dogs were able to detect the wild type of the virus while being a little less successful in identifying the Alpha variant correctly.
According to the researchers, dogs are able to detect the metabolic changes in a body when volatile compounds are released, as in the case of viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections. The researchers claim that this could serve as an effective pre-screening method in large gatherings and help contain the pandemic. The scent detection dog training centre at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland, conducted the experiment where four trained sniffer dogs were tasked with detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 420 samples collected from volunteers. Out of these, 114 were tested positive for Covid, while 306 tested negative.
These skin swab samples were presented to the dogs randomly over seven sessions and the dogs managed to identify the virus with a diagnostic accuracy of 92 percent.
When these four sniffer dogs were put to work at the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport between September 2020 and August 2021, they were made to sniff out 303 passengers, The results between the PCR tests of the selected passengers and the results from the dogs matched 98 percent of the time.
The researchers optimistically recorded their findings in the study, noting that this information indicates that the chances of detection by dogs are around 90 percent.