The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search

Study shows dogs can detect COVID-positive arrivals

Study shows dogs can detect COVID-positive arrivals

WORLD: Dogs can be trained to detect more than 90% of COVID-19 infections even when patients are asymptomatic, according to research published today (May 24), which authors hope could help replace the need to quarantine new arrivals.


Monday 24 May 2021, 11:29AM

Dogs have already shown that they can sniff out maladies such as cancer, malaria and epilepsy. Photo: AFP.

Dogs have already shown that they can sniff out maladies such as cancer, malaria and epilepsy. Photo: AFP.

Using their remarkable sense of smell - which can pick up the equivalent of half a teaspoon of sugar in an olympic-sized swimming pool - dogs have already shown that they can sniff out maladies such as cancer, malaria and epilepsy.

Several previous studies have shown proof-of-concept that dogs can detect Sars-CoV-2.

Researchers from the London School of Tropical Medicine wanted to see if dogs could detect a distinctive odour given off from chemical compounds associated with someone who is COVID positive but doesn’t show symptoms.

They gathered samples of clothing and face masks from people who had tested positive for mild or symptomatic Sars-CoV-2.

Samples of the socks of 200 COVID-19 cases were collected and arranged in lab tests for six dogs that had been trained to indicate either a presence or absence of the chemical compound.

The dogs needed to be trained not to identify “false positives” in a bid to hack their reward system and obtain treats even if there were no COVID-19 samples in a given test.

“This means that the dog fully understands and gets a reward for a correct negative as well as a correct positive,” said Claire Guest, from the school’s Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.

Overall, the dogs were successfully able to identify between 94 and 82% of Sars-CoV-2 samples.

The researchers then modelled how effectively these success rates, combined with traditional PCR tests, could help detect mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.

They found that using dogs to screen arrivals at terminuses such as airports could detect 91% of cases, resulting in a 2.24 times lower rate of transmission than with PCR tests alone.

Property in Phuket

Important start’

Authors of the research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, said they hoped it could eventually replace the need for travellers to quarantine - which necessarily disrupts every arrival even though the vast majority are not COVID positive.

“The key thing is that dogs are significantly quicker than other tests,” said co-author James Logan.

“What we’re suggesting is that dogs would give the first initial screening, and then those (arrivals) that were indicated as positive would then receive a complimentary PCR test.”

The team said that out of a plane full of arrivals - around 300 people - less than 1% were statistically likely to be carrying Sars-CoV-2.

Under current quarantine regulations employed by some countries, all 300 would need to isolate, causing significant inconvenience.

But given the sensitivity of trained dogs, a maximum of 35 people on board would be indicated as positive, the paper said.

Of these, only around 3 would be expected to return a positive PCR test.

“This is a really important start and could lead to a useful, usable system,” said Mick Bailey, professor of Comparative Immunology at the University of Bristol, who was not involved in the research.

“But there’s a lot more validation needs to be done before we could be confident that the dogs can reliably and specifically detect asymptomatic Sars-CoV-2 infection in people in airports and train stations.”

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.


Be the first to comment.


Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Phuket Sandbox: Are we ready?

....Does anyone know a foreign pensioner who is vaccinated? Or a Thai person not registered on Phuke...(Read More)

Govt confirms Phuket 62% vaccinated

30.14% does even cut it against a target requirement of 70%. Who do they think they are conning?...(Read More)

Phuket Sandbox: Are we ready?

...It makes the words 'opening up a joke......(Read More)

Phuket Sandbox: Are we ready?

As long 'we' almost daily flip-flop the rules for proposed tourists 'we' are not rea...(Read More)

Phuket Sandbox: Are we ready?

THE GREAT PHUKET HOAX. A red flagged nation with just 30.3% of Phuket residents fully vaccinated. ...(Read More)

Phuket Sandbox: Are we ready?

When a shop has a sign that entering requires a face mask than thai shop staff should show the custo...(Read More)

Outrage over blacktip reef sharks sold at Phuket fish market

I don't think "protection" is in their vernacular. It they can capitalize, they will s...(Read More)

Outrage over blacktip reef sharks sold at Phuket fish market

Great that the Blacktip shark will finally become protected in Thailand. Hope same for Hammer- and L...(Read More)

CCSA issues new colour-coded COVID province ranking

And how to control/check the traveling between a 'dark red' and a yellow province? As in ma...(Read More)