In lieu of a vaccine, an effective track and trace system and rapid antigen tests being available, another way to combat the spread of Covid-19 could be sniffer dogs.
Dogs are being used to detect whether people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and potentially could sniff out the virus in up to 250 people every hour.
People with symptoms or who have recently been tested with the virus are being asked to participate in a trial where they have to wear a t-shirt, socks and a mask for several hours before the clothes are posted to researchers, who will then use them to train the dogs.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, head of disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, Professor James Logan said the research is providing promising results.
“We’ve got a way to go and we’ve got many more samples – but we’ve still got to get more samples in so we fully get to know how the dogs can actually do it.
“If anybody has had a very recent positive Covid test or they have symptoms and they’re about to get a test if they can get in touch with us.
“We will send a pack with a pair of socks, a t-shirt and a mask that we will get them to wear for a couple of hours.”
Once the dogs are trained, Logan explained that airports would be a prime location for them to be deployed.
“Essentially, we could deploy dogs anywhere where we have to screen lots of people very quickly.
“Each individual dog can screen up to 250 people an hour – and not just at airports, it could be train stations for commuters, going into schools and workplaces as well.”
Anyone wishing to participate in the trial should get in touch with www.virusdogs.com.
Logan also revealed that full training of the dogs takes eight weeks and he is now confident that the novel coronavirus does indeed have an odour.
“We’re pretty confident now that Covid-19 does have an odour. Our initial results are promising.
“We know from other diseases and other work that we’ve done that dogs can detect people with malaria with really high accuracy.
“When I see them do it I’m blown away by how well they can actually do it. It is scientifically proven that they are able to do this.”
As always, it’s dogs to the rescue to make everything better.
(h/t Manchester Evening News)