So our good boys and girls are even helping us in the pandemic as well. Truly a man’s best friend. A recent study shows that with proper training dogs can sniff out who has coronavirus or not. The research was a proof of concept investigation by the University of Pennsylvania.
Figuring out who has corona or not in an airport or any gathering is pretty hard. Temperature scanners can be fooled and it’s almost impossible to check every single person. However, now we can rely on dogs. At least that’s what this study says. According to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE, dogs can be trained to sniff COVID-19 positive samples with 96% accuracy.
Cynthia Otto, director of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Working Dog Center, said that “This is not a simple thing we’re asking the dogs to do. Dogs have to be specific about detecting the odor of the infection, but they also have to generalize across the background odors of different people: men and women, adults and children, people of different ethnicities and geographies”.
The research notes that dogs have to be carefully trained in order for them to properly identify which samples are positive. It requires a lot of samples and different samples as well because there many scents in the world that can mask the scent of a positive sample. Otto says that “We are collecting many more samples in that study—hundreds or more—than we did in this first one, and are hopeful that will get the dogs closer to what they might encounter in a community setting”.
These dogs were also being trained to distinguish between the odors of positive and negative and vaccinated individuals based on the volatile organic compounds they leave on their clothes overnight. They called this study the ‘The T-shirt study’.
During the research, eight labrador retrievers and a Belgian malinois were trained. All the dogs had not done any medical detection work before so they were a blank slate. Their training included detecting the scent of a synthetic compound called universal detection compound or UDC. Whenever the dogs were able to identify the scent, they were rewarded. Classic carrot and stick tactic.
After the UDC, the dogs were trained in the same way to identify COVID 19 using urine samples from positive and negative patients that were either subjected to heat inactivation or detergent inactivation. Aside from the 96% accuracy, the results showed the dogs were keen to not avoid getting false negatives.
We don’t deserve dogs to be honest.