Dogs have learned to identify COVID-19 patients

In a study by Finnish scientists who found out that dogs find COVID-19 by smell, some people in academia react with enthusiasm and others with skepticism. Although everyone knows about dogs’ keen sense of smell.

This is reported in a publication by the University of Helsinki on a study by Finnish scientists. Specialists were the first to start specially training medical dogs to make a number of diagnoses for the definition of COVID-19. Compared to us, dogs have a much finer sense of smell. Humans have 5 million cells that capture smells. Shepherd dogs have 220 million of them. For research, sheepdogs, Labradors, Retrievers or Cocker Spaniels are usually selected by dragging animals onto a single scent.

After a few weeks of training, dogs were able to smell the urine of coronavirus patients. And the error rate was minimal. According to Finnish scientists, the accuracy of determining the disease with the help of medical dogs is almost the same as in the usual coronavirus tests currently used.

Many people immediately wondered if COVID-19 was dangerous for the dogs themselves. But unfortunately, no one can yet say for sure whether the training procedure itself, with the analysis of infected patients, is dangerous to humans and animals. Meanwhile, Finnish scientists are already moving into the next phase of research, with coronavirus detection on a large scale. And only after successful completion of this phase will the use of dogs in the work with patients with COVID-19 be discussed.

According to the head of the non-profit organization Medical Detection Dogs, which trains medical dogs, dogs can sniff 750 people per hour. Representatives of the organization plan to train six dogs in the first stage of the experiment.

Medical dogs are already being used to detect a number of diseases, including cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.

Claire Gest, CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, said: “Dogs have already had so many fantastic achievements in detecting human diseases and I believe they can be taught how to detect COVID-19.

A dog is a friend of man; it always comes to the rescue. Maybe it’s another chance to save all of humanity. Let’s try to trust our cheery and shaggy friends with waving tails.

May 30,  2020

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