The British Government has funded a pilot project of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine for the training of dogs able to recognise the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus detection dogs? The idea may sound absurd but there is a kernel of truth. Or at least, so they think in London: the British government has decided to finance with 500 thousand pounds a pilot project of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in collaboration with the Medical Detection Dogs Centre and Durham University. The idea is to train dogs capable of recognizing the Coronavirus to determine whether a person is sick or not. According to the researchers who are carrying out the project, the very sensitive sense of smell of dogs may be able to “recognize” Covid-19. Professor James Logan, head of the LSHTM Department of Disease Control and project leader, said: “Our previous work has shown that malaria has a characteristic smell, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we have successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria. This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory diseases can change body odour, gives us hope that dogs can also detect COVID-19. If successful, this approach could revolutionise the way we diagnose the virus, leading to rapid screening of a large number of people, which could have a profound impact and help bring our lives back to a kind of normal.
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Can dogs recognize Coronavirus?
The project will start with an experimental phase. Six dogs will be trained to recognise the virus by sniffing out Coronavirus positive patients and healthy people. Subsequently, the animals will be subjected to laboratory tests to see if and with what percentage they can distinguish between positive and negative subjects. If the results are encouraging, the project could start on a large scale within a few months. The Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell welcomed the initiative with confidence and satisfaction. “Dogs that recognise biologically based diseases,” he said, “are already a reality in sniffing out certain types of cancer and other diseases, so we believe this could be a major innovation. It could bring great results in the fight against coronavirus, because a dog could quickly find the virus, for example in airports, and limit the pandemic as much as possible”.
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