A British charity has teamed up with scientists to find out if dogs can recognize COVID-19 by their strong sense of smell, they said on Friday.
Medical Detection Dogs will work with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University in North East England to determine if canines can help diagnose.
It follows previous research into the ability of dogs to detect malaria and is based on the belief that every disease triggers a certain smell.
The organizations said they had started preparing dogs for training in six weeks "to enable quick, non-invasive diagnosis towards the end of the epidemic."
The charity has previously trained dogs to detect diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's and bacterial infections by sniffing samples from patients.
You can also see subtle changes in skin temperature, which may make it useful to determine if a person has a fever.
"In principle, we are certain that dogs can recognize COVID-19," said Claire Guest, founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs.
"We are now investigating how to safely catch the smell of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.
"The goal is that dogs can examine anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and tell us if they need to be tested.
"This would be quick, effective, and non-invasive, and would ensure that the limited National Health Service (NHS) test resources were only used where they were really needed."
The head of disease control at LSHTM said dogs could detect malaria with "extremely high accuracy," and since other respiratory diseases changed body odor, there was a "very high probability" that they could work with COVID-19.
According to Steve Lindsay of Durham University, at the end of the epidemic, recognition dogs could be used at airports to quickly identify people who carry the virus and prevent the disease from recurring.
Over 500,000 coronavirus infections have meanwhile been registered in 182 countries, which, according to an AFP calculation based on official country data and figures from the World Health Organization, resulted in 22,920 deaths.
The number of actual infections is believed to be higher, as many countries only test severe cases or patients who require hospitalization.
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