Dogs ‘don’t lie’: Canine detection as accurate as PCR at mass screening for Covid

Dog owners share stories of hero dogs who saved their lives

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The dogs were provided by French fire stations and the United Arab Emirates and were trained from three to six weeks to sniff human sweat samples for coronavirus. If the dogs detected coronavirus in the sweat samples, they were then trained to sit down. Multiple dogs were used to sniff different samples, and it was not too dissimilar from how dogs are trained to detect explosives.

After the dogs had been tested, they were then taken to the the Alfort School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cones with sweat samples in them were set up here, where the dogs sniffed sweat samples taken from 355 volunteers.

Of the participants, 109 had tested positive for Covid, including 31 who were not experiencing symptoms.

The study results showed that the dogs were 97 percent accurate at identifying Covid in people who had already tested positive via a PCR test.

The dogs were also 100 percent accurate at sniffing out the virus on people who were not suffering from any symptoms at all.

Prof Dominique Grandjean, study author from the Alfort National Veterinary School, told Science News: “The dog doesn’t lie.”

According to Prof Grandjean, it only took the canines about 15 seconds to analyse 20 Covid samples.

But the dogs were not as effective at categorising negative samples.

They still managed to detect 91 percent of the Covid-free samples accurately, but produced some false positives.

Using dogs to detect Covid has two advantages, according to Prof Grandjean.

He told NBC this was the fact they are less invasive than nasal and throat swab, and produce quick results if the dogs’ training time is not included.

The study was published in the journal Plos One and has been peer reviewed.

It is not the only study to show the effectiveness of dogs at testing for Covid.

Back in May, a study of an experiment carried out in Finland was published in the journal BMJ Global Health.

Researchers tested out a team of trained sniffer dogs, that was found to have a 98 percent success rate at detecting the COVID-19.

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They suggested this could prove useful at airports for testing international travellers for the virus.

Professor Anu Kantele, of Helsinki University Hospital, said: “The basic idea at airports would be that the dogs do the first-stage screening and those marked as positive could then be tested, for example with PCR.”

But in May, Prof Kantele warned that one of the caveats to her research in question was the lack of other existing peer reviewed studies on dog’s ability to detect COVID-19.

But now thanks to this latest study, that may have changed.

And these two studies are not the only ones either.

Last year, a study using dogs to detect Covid in Florida found they had a 73 percent to 93 percent accuracy rate after being trained for one month.

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