Dogs are being trained to detect and alert COVID-19 infections

Even though dogs seem to detect COVID-19 with accuracy, researchers say large-scale studies needed before approach is scaled up

Dogs are being trained to detect and alert COVID-19 infections
Dogs are being trained to detect and alert COVID-19 infections

We have bomb and drug sniffing dogs at airports to keep people safe. But could we have COVID smelling dogs at airports and big events to alert people of the virus?

Dog trainers across the globe say they are seeing extraordinary results when training dogs to detect and alert COVID-19 infections.

In some cases, they say that dogs can detect the virus with almost perfect accuracy, according to nature.com.

Scientists involved with the efforts suggest that canines could help to control the pandemic because they can screen hundreds of people an hour in busy places such as airports or sports stadiums, and are cheaper and faster than conventional testing methods such as the RNA-Amplification Technique PCR.

Even though dogs seem to detect COVID-19 with remarkable accuracy, researchers say large-scale studies are needed before the approach is scaled up.

An infectious disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who is studying and training COVID-19 dogs, James Logan, says it’s important not to go out too early with grand claims and small data sets. With larger data sets, then the wider scientific community can evaluate these claims.

In one study, researchers trained eight dogs on samples taken from the mouths and windpipes of seven hospitalized COVID-19 patients and seven people without COVID. The dogs identified 83 percent of positive cases and 96 percent of negative cases.


About the Authors:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Gaby has been a news producer since 2019. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a Media Arts degree and previously worked at KIII-TV in Corpus Christi.