Specially trained dogs could provide a significant breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus.More than a dozen dogs are being taught how to identify the odour in humans and they could be dispatched before Christmas to places like airports or a sports stadium.The project, which has government support, is underway in a secluded corner of Buckinghamshire.
It’s being run by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which has the Duchess of Cornwall as its Royal Patron.Camilla was shown how the trials are working on Wednesday and how the dogs are being taught how to recognise the odour of the virus.Researchers have already established that Covid-19 has its own odour.
If these trials are successful, the dogs could search up to 250 people at a time.It means they could be targeted at passengers disembarking from a plane arriving from a high risk country - or for a crowd of spectators attending a sports event.The dogs have already shown how they can detect cancer in human samples, malaria or low blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.In the trials, the dogs are given samples of socks, a t-shirt and a face mask from people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
If the trials are approved, dogs could be trained within two weeks.Camilla watched a demonstration as Asher - a working cocker spaniel - identified COVID from a range of samples in front of him.She wore a face visor in public for the first time, choosing it over a face mask to help communicate better with the researchers and dog handlers.The Duchess was also shown a mock-up airport queue or waiting room where the dogs can identify a passenger who has coronavirus.
It is a type of screening which could work to compliment NHS testing.
Airports, and other areas with high numbers of people, have shown huge interest as it could help them get their businesses back to near-normal levels.The dogs are rewarded with a toy or a treat if they correctly identify the Covid odour.However, the researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine desperately need more human samples and have been hampered by the drop in infection rates in e population over the summer.