The road to recovery will be a long one in the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic, and authorities are constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to help speed us along. Sure, the continuing rollout of effective vaccines is going to be the most potent driver of this upswing, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for some outside of the box ideas too.
For instance, a number of airports and sports arenas are now employing teams of COVID-sniffing dogs to help keep the potentially-ill from mingling with the crowd.
A new study this week shows just how effective these canine coronavirus detectives can be.
German scientists have trained dogs to sniff out the “corona odour” in human saliva with a 94 per cent accuracy rate, even with those who are asymptomatic, they claim.
Veterinarians at the Hanover University of Veterinary Medicine trained Filou, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, and one-year-old Joe Cocker the English Cocker Spaniel to detect the Chinese virus.
Senior State Veterinarian Dr Esther Schalke from the armed forces’ school for service dogs said that the animals do not sniff out the virus itself, explaining, according to Bild: “The virus attacks the cells, which changes the metabolism, and other molecules than normal are released. The dog smells that.”
The practice has gone international in a big way.
COVID-sniffing dogs are already being employed at airports in Santiago, Chile, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Helsinki in Finland. Trials are also taking place in Italy, Belgium, France, and Australia, amongst other nations.
British charity Medical Detection Dogs based in Milton Keynes, England, began trials last March in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Dogs were already being trained to sniff out other diseases and conditions like malaria, low blood sugar, and Parkinson’s disease.
As the global vaccine rollout continues to move at a less-than-ideal pace, the practice of training and employing these potent pooches is likely to grow.
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