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New study proves sniffer dogs can detect COVID-19 better than any PCR test

COVID-19 sniffer dogs dog-wow
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We've now got some extra helpers in the fight against COVID-19. These furry first responders have four legs, a tail, and a real nose for sniffing out the virus!

By Ashley Murphy

Published on the 27/05/2021, 20:00, Updated on the 04/06/2021, 15:37

A recent study discovered that people infected with COVID-19 give off a distinct odour. It's too faint for us humans to detect,  but not if you're a highly trained sniffer dog. 

Experiments show dogs can pick up the smell of COVID on infected people's clothing with up to 94% accuracy. And it only takes them a few seconds. That makes sniffer dogs as accurate (and a lot faster) than any PCR or lateral flow test.


Sniffing out the virus

But there is a catch. So far, the dogs have only worked in a laboratory setting. The next phase of the research will test if these super sniffers can catch a whiff of COVID-19 in real-world environments, such as airports and sports stadiums.

However, scientists are confident that pooches are up to the task. And we wouldn't bet against them. After all, a dogs nose always knows.

"We are so proud of our dogs for so accurately detecting the odour of COVID19," said Claire Guest, the Chief Scientific Officer and the Principal Investigator of the trial. "To correctly identify the odour over 94% of the time is remarkable. It proves the positive impact dogs could have for mass screening as we continue to battle the pandemic.

Sniffing beats swabbing

The second phase of the research is already underway, and similar projects are ongoing in several other countries, including Finland and France.

So will we soon see dogs smelling people for COVID at airports and other public spaces? It's looking very paws-sible. And who's going to complain? Because getting sniffed at by a friendly pup is better than shoving that swab up your nose! 


The results of our #COVID19 trial are in and prove that dogs can detect the odour of the disease with high levels of...

Posted by Medical Detection Dogs on Sunday, May 23, 2021