Chula sniffer dogs score 95% on Covid detection

Chula sniffer dogs score 95% on Covid detection

A dog is seen during its training to detect the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Songkhla, March 3, 2021. (Photo: Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production/Handout via REUTERS)
A dog is seen during its training to detect the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Songkhla, March 3, 2021. (Photo: Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production/Handout via REUTERS)

Sniffer dogs trained to detect Covid-19 in human sweat proved nearly 95% accurate during training and could be used to identify coronavirus infections at busy transport hubs within seconds, the head of a pilot project at Chulalongkorn University said.

Six Labrador Retrievers participated in a six-month project that included unleashing them to test an infected patient's sweat on a spinning wheel of six canned vessels.

"The dogs take only one to two seconds to detect the virus," Professor Kaywalee Chatdarong, the leader of the project at the university’s veterinary faculty, told Reuters.

"Within a minute, they will manage to go through 60 samples."

The dogs can detect a volatile organic compound secreted in the sweat of Covid-19 sufferers, even in the absence of disease symptoms, the researcher said.

The dogs would not need to directly sniff people, but could screen samples of sweat, a task that should not be difficult in a tropical country such as Thailand, she added.

Chile, Finland and India are other countries that have also launched efforts to get sniffer dogs to detect the virus, with a German veterinary clinic saying last month its sniffer dogs had achieved 94% detection accuracy in human saliva.

"The next step is we will put them out in the field," said Ms Kaywalee.

"In the future, when we send them to airports or ports, where there is an influx of commuters, they will be much faster and more precise in detecting the virus than temperature checks."

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