Dogs are ‘more reliable’ at sniffing out Covid than lateral flow tests

People infected with Covid-19 have a distinct smell that can be picked up by specially trained dogs with up to 94% accuracy, a new study has shown. Results were based on six dogs who tested 3,500 odour samples donated by the public and NHS staff who either had Covid-19 or were virus-free. The dogs were found to be more reliable than lateral flow tests and could even rapidly sniff out the samples of asymptomatic Covid sufferers and those who had low viral loads. The trial, which has not yet been peer reviewed, showed the dogs were also able to indentify infections caused by two different variants, including the Kent strain.

Professor James Logan, head of the department of disease control at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the project, said: ‘What was great was the dogs that have been trained on the original variant transferred to the new (Kent) variant. ‘They could detect the new variant without any additional training. ‘So this gives us real hope and really suggests that dogs are able to detect different variants of Covid.’ Scientists now believe detection dogs could play an important role in tackling the pandemic by using them to quickly screen a large number of people at once, such as at airports and large sporting events.

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