The COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly frightening and relatively new. It has been circling its way through humanity since roughly January or so. However, it is the most deadly pandemic in modern history, having infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people.
As a result of its relative newness, there are many questions about how Corona can be easily detected. Testing has been developed, but there has been a perpetual shortage of testing materials and reagents. As a result, new mass testing methods are being examined and developed.
One such example: Dogs.
Dogs and Diseases
Dogs have incredibly unique physiologies and powerful noses and senses of smell. It is for these reasons that dogs have, for decades, been employed as drug-sniffing animals or used to sniff out bombs.
Though research has been limited, there is some evidence to suggest that certain kinds of dogs can, with high degrees of success, sniff out lung cancer in humans. Furthermore, dogs have been trained to test for various illnesses, including malaria and Parkinson’s disease.
Again, this is an area that requires more study and the development of formalized and medical approved treatment and standardization programs. However, if true, it could be revolutionary for the area of cancer detection.
Dogs and COVID-19
As noted in a variety of news articles starting in April 2020, dogs are trained to sniff out the Coronavirus. The project is ongoing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They are attempting to train dogs to sniff out Coronavirus in asymptomatic people.
While they weren’t positive yet, scientists believed that COVID-19 has a “specific odor,” like other diseases. If that was the case, it was possible that with training, dogs could detect that odor and alert their handlers.
If this story winds up being true, it could be a huge boon for mass screening and testing. One of the biggest hurdles towards resuming normal life is the fear that asymptomatic individuals will walk among us. Many people worry that they could be visiting major travel hubs, large crowds, or vulnerable populations without knowing that they could be spreading the virus.
Dogs could potentially be used to identify individuals who had Corona and ensure that they are tested and isolated.
It’s important to note that these dogs could be used to sniff out thousands of people for a day. According to a news article about the project, one dog could sniff 750 people an hour.
According to a report on the story, some dogs are in the process of being trained. The training involves giving the dogs the masks of COVID-19 patients. If those first trials are successful, six more dogs will be trained, and further experiments will continue. That training and experimentation would continue for several weeks.
Broadly speaking, like many issues related to COVID-19, it appears that we will need time and further experimentation. However, the initial indications have been positive, and the history of using dogs to detect diseases in humans is long and sound. Hopefully, in the next few months, we will be at a point where dogs can be used to help conduct mass testing of this terrible disease.