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Six sniffer dogs to be trained to detect coronavirus

Six sniffer dogs are being trained to detect coronavirus in passengers arriving at Britain’s airports.

The dogs – from Medical Detection Dogs (MDC) – have been used to smell out cancer, malaria, and Parkinson’s Disease.

The canine charity believes they can be trained within six to eight weeks to discover Covid-19 in asymptomatic passengers.


MDC is working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University.

Dr Claire Guest, chief executive and co-founder of MDC, said:

“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19.

“We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.

“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and tell us whether they need to be tested.

“This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.”

Professor James Logan, Head of Department of Disease Control at LHSTM, said:

“Our previous work demonstrated that dogs can detect odours from humans with a malaria infection with extremely high accuracy – above the World Health Organisation standards for a diagnostic.

“We know that other respiratory diseases like COVID-19 change our body odour so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect it.

“This new diagnostic tool could revolutionise our response to COVID-19 in the short term, but particularly in the months to come, and could be profoundly impactful.”

A crowd funding has been set up to raise £500,000 to train the dogs.










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