Trained on smelly socks, bio-detection dogs sniff out COVID-19 By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Researchers at Hanover University’s vet clinic current Filou, the 3-year-old Belgian shepherd which is ready to detect COVID-19 in human saliva samples, in Hanover, Germany, February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke ./File Photo


By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Sniffer dogs skilled utilizing smelly socks worn by folks contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may quickly be used at airports or mass gathering venues to select up the “corona odour” of COVID-19-infected folks, British scientists stated on Monday.

Working in groups of two, the COVID-trained dogs may display screen a line of a number of hundred folks coming off a airplane inside half an hour, for instance, and detect with as much as 94.3% sensitivity these contaminated, the scientists stated.

Presenting outcomes of an early stage examine – which concerned some 3,500 odour samples donated within the type of unwashed socks or T-shirts worn by members of the general public and well being staff – the researchers stated the dogs had been even capable of sniff out asymptomatic or gentle COVID-19 circumstances, in addition to circumstances brought on by a mutant variant that emerged within the UK late final yr.

“Dogs could be a great way to screen a large number of people quickly and prevent COVID-19 from being re-introduced into the UK,” stated Steve Lindsay (NYSE:), a professor at Durham University’s division of biosciences who labored on the examine.

James Logan, a illness management specialist on the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the challenge, stated the key benefit of sniffer dogs over different screening strategies similar to lateral move testing is their “incredible speed and good accuracy among large groups of people”.

The British analysis, printed on-line on Monday earlier than being peer-reviewed, provides to different pilot initiatives in Finland, Germany, Chile and elsewhere that are trialling COVID-trained sniffer dogs at airports.

The dogs within the UK examine had been skilled over a number of weeks by being launched to 200 odour samples from individuals who had examined optimistic for COVID-19, in addition to 200 management samples from individuals who examined detrimental.

The highest performing dogs within the trial detected coronavirus odour within the samples with as much as 94.3% sensitivity, that means a low threat of false detrimental outcomes, and as much as 92% specificity, that means a low threat of false optimistic outcomes.

This accuracy is larger than advisable by the World Health Organization for COVID-19 diagnostics, Logan’s staff stated, with the dogs outperforming lateral move exams, which have an general sensitivity of between 58% and 77%.

Independent consultants cautioned that the findings would should be replicated in real-world conditions.

“This proof of concept study suggests that trained detection dogs could be used in places like airports, sports stadiums and concert venues,” stated Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick University.

“The big question is will this approach work in the real world on people rather than samples of socks and shirts?”

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