Dogs with a few days of training are capable of identifying people infected with the coronavirus, according to a study by a German veterinary university.
Eight dogs from Germany’s armed forces were trained for only a week and were able to accurately identify the virus with a 94% success rate, according to a pilot project led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Researchers challenged the dogs to sniff out COVID-19 in the saliva of more than 1,000 healthy and infected people.
“We think that this works because the metabolic processes in the body of a diseased patient are completely changed,” Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university, said in a YouTube video about the project. “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell.”
Dogs, which have a sense of smell around 1,000 times more sensitive than humans, could be deployed to detect infections at places such as airports, border crossings and sporting events with the proper training, according to the researchers. The study was conducted jointly with the German armed forces, the Hannover Medical School and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.
Von Koeckritz-Blickwede said that the next step will be to train dogs to differentiate Covid samples from other diseases like influenza.