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Dogs to sniff out Covid?

Dogs are being trained up to detect Covid-19 by the charity Medical Detection Dogs

21 July, 2020 — By Tom Foot

AN NHS-backed trial is underway to find out if sniffer dogs can screen patients for Covid-19 and prevent a second wave of the virus.

Researchers at University College London Hospitals are calling for NHS staff to take part in the “conceptual study” that could lead to dogs being stationed in airports, sports stadium or “any public space”.

Staff will be asked to provide the result of a swab test and samples of breath and body odour gathered by wearing a mask for three hours and nylon socks for 12 hours.

Dogs have a heightened sense of smell and are already known to detect changes in human body odour to spot diseases like cancers and malaria. They can even predict seizures in epileptic patients, according to experts.

Dogs are being trained up to detect Covid-19 by the charity Medical Detection Dogs.

It said its “Covid-19 detection dogs” will be able to check patients without physical contact. If the dogs detect the virus a medical test will follow. If our research is successful, Covid-19 detection dogs could be deployed in public places such as airports and sporting events,” said the charity.

A single dog can screen up to 250 people per hour. “This would help prevent the second wave of the disease,” a statement added. “We are already discussing scaling up with international border agencies in several countries around the world.”

The idea is to eventually widen the scheme to “any public space to provide rapid non-invasive screening”.

Researchers are looking for NHS staff and members of their households who are due to have a swab test for Covid-19. Anyone interested in taking part can email catherine.houlihan5@nhs.net.

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