NHS staff support Durham-backed Covid-19 sniffer dog trial


NHS staff are participating in a sniffer dog trial, backed by Durham University. The study aims to investigate whether dogs can sniff out the presence of Covid-19 in humans. This will aid diagnosis of individuals who are symptomatic.

11 UK hospitals are taking part in the trial to help the Medical Detection Dogs charity based in Milton Keynes. Kettering General Hospital has already seen 92 staff members sign up to the trial.

Volunteers are required to provide samples of breath and body odour by wearing a mask for 3 hours, or wearing a T-shirt and sock for twelve hours. The results from a Covid-19 medical test are also provided to confirm if the dog was correct. 

If the trial is successful, these dogs can be used at airports and sporting events to help prevent a second wave of the virus. Scientists estimate that the dogs will potentially be able to test around 250 people per hour. 

The trial “could revolutionise how we diagnose the virus.”

Professor James Logan

Professor Steve Lindsay, from the Durham University Department of Biosciences, said that the trial could be a “game changer” in the fight to suppress the virus. 

Dogs can already detect different types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and malaria using their acute sense of smell.

Project lead, Professor James Logan, states that the trial, if successful, “could revolutionise how we diagnose the virus” and will help to “return our lives back to some sort of normality.” 

Image: Medical Detection Dogs via Twitter

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