Researchers in the United Kingdom have received government funding to determine if dogs can detect COVID-19 through scent, which could lead to a new form of tracing the spread of the disease.
Britain’s health department announced Saturday it has granted 500,000 pounds ($853,000 CAD) toward the research, which will be conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Durham University and a British charity, Medical Detection Dogs.
Innovation Minister James Bethell said the clinical trial will help determine whether so-called “COVID dogs” can reliably detect the disease, and even stop it from spreading.
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“Bio-detection dogs already detect specific cancers and we believe this innovation might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy,” Bethell said in a statement.
Samples of the odour of COVID-19 patients from London hospitals will be provided to six labradors and cocker spaniels, who will be trained to distinguish the smell from that of people who are not infected.
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The goal is to make the dogs able to detect COVID-19 in people even if they aren’t showing any symptoms.
2:48Study investigates how COVID-19 infections impact pets
Study investigates how COVID-19 infections impact pets