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Dogs can be trained to detect up to 94% of Covid-19 infections – even in asymptomatic patients – according to a British study published over the weekend, suggesting they could be used at airports and other points of contact. entrance to control passengers.

The study tested the dogs’ known ability to act as biosensors, capable of detecting odors associated with human health – such as the presence of Plasmodium that causes malaria – as well as drugs, explosives and food.

Overall, the dogs were able to identify between 82% and 94% of the samples of Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wanted to know if dogs could detect a distinctive odor emanating from chemicals associated with a person positive for Covid-19 but not showing symptoms.

They collected samples of clothing and face masks from people.

In one test, socks from 200 cases of Covid-19 were collected and laid out in lab tests for six dogs that had been trained to indicate the presence or absence of the chemical compound.

Dog trained to sniff Covid-19 filters sweat sample at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok © Reuters

The team at LSHTM, Medical Detection Dogs and the University of Durham said the trial showed the Covid-19 infection “has a distinct smell that dogs can detect with incredible precision.”

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to assess whether trained dogs can distinguish between the scent of people infected with Sars-CoV-2 and those who are not infected, in a double-blind randomized trial, where the trainer and instructor were unaware. the study group for each sample, and with a sufficiently large number of dogs and individuals donating samples, ”the researchers wrote.

Dogs were to be trained not to identify “false positives” in order to obtain treats even though there were no Covid-19 samples in a given test.

The results are not yet peer reviewed.

Thailand on Friday deployed dogs trained to detect coronavirus infections by sniffing human sweat samples, as the country faces an increase in infections, including many asymptomatic cases.

Three of the six Labrador Retrievers trained had shown a success rate of around 95%, similar to the results of the UK study.

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