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Trained dogs detect COVID-19 as well as PCR tests do, study shows

Study results show dogs are better than PCR tests at identifying asymptomatic people with COVID-19

brown and black German shepherd

A group of dogs belonging to French fire departments (Service départemental d’Incendie et de Secours—SDIS of Yvelines and Oise) and to the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates was trained to detect COVID-19. To do so, they were lined up with positive and negative olfaction cones and based on positive reinforcement with toys, they were taught to detect the presence of the virus. According to the authors of the study, dogs that are already trained for odor detection can learn to detect Covid in as little as 3 weeks.

From a group of 335 adults who tested positive for COVID-19, from which 143 were symptomatic and 192 were asymptotic, a total of 109 tested positive when taking an RT-PCR test. The same group of people provided sweat samples that were then presented to the dogs trained to detect COVID-19. The results from the experiment show that the sensitivity of canine detection was higher than that of nasopharyngeal antigen testing.

Presently, most ongoing diagnostic COVID-19 testing involves nasopharyngeal sampling for RT-PCR, nasopharyngeal point-of-care antigen testing, or saliva RT-PCR to identify
the pathogen. As we continue to live with the virus, finding non-invasive, fast, and efficient alternatives to detecting COVID-19 could lead to a drastic decrease in the spreading of the virus. The advantage of using dogs for COVID-19 detection is that it’s immediate and the results are as reliable, if not more when compared to PCR tests.

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