The United Kingdom government on Saturday launched trials for specially trained COVID dogs that may be able to detect COVID19 in humans, even before Coronavirus symptoms appear in humans, as part of the new research.
The research will establish whether these COVID dogs could be used as a early warning measure to detect COVID19 in future.
LSHTM's scientists will initiate the 1st phase of research in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, backed by 500,000 pounds of UK government funding, the Department of Health and Social Care mentioned. The first phase of the research will be to determine whether COVID dogs are able to detect COVID19 in humans from odour samples.
The research brings together leading disease control experts from the universities with Medical Detection Dogs, who have already successfully trained dogs to detect odour of many different diseases in humans such as malaria, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Lord Bethell, UK minister for innovation said, Bio-detections already detect specific cancers and we hope this innovation might provide speedy results as part of our wider testing strategy.
Accuracy is essential so this research will inform us whether COVID dogs can be able to detect the Coronavirus and stop it spreading, he said.
In trial the mixture of cocker spaniels and labradors can be trained to detect COVID19 in people too, even if they are not showing any symptoms. It is one among a number of testing measures being explored in order to ensure the UK government's response to the COVID19 is as extensive as possible, the Department of Health informed.
The initial rsearch will see National Health Service staff in London hospitals collect odour samples of various people who are infected with COVID19 and who are not infected with it. The six bio detection dogs will then undergo rigorous training to identify the COVID19 from the collected samples.
Our previous work has proved that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to detect malaria, said Professor James Logan, lead researchers for the project and Head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
This, combined with the idea that respiratory illness can change body odour, gives us hope that COVID Dogs can also detect Coronavirus.
If successful, this method could revolutionise how we detect the COVID19, with the potential to check large number of people.