Coronavirus has massively impacted the entire world. For the foreseeable future, testing and contact tracing will become the norm. However, testing for coronavirus can be quite costly, uncomfortable, and time-consuming. So researchers are teaching dogs to sniff out COVID-19!
Dogs Smelling Coronavirus
Without a doubt, air travel will become a lot more of a hassle in the coming months. Unfortunately, things will not be back to normal for some time, so we’re all just going to have to get used to temperature checks and longer-than-usual lines. Thankfully, coronavirus smelling dogs will be the small light in this darkness. In the next few months, airports want to roll out furry friends that can sniff out COVID-19!
Believe it or not, this actually isn’t that uncommon. Of course, you’ve likely heard of, and seen, dogs trained to smell drugs, weapons, and other illegal packages. However, scientists have also trained canines to identify people with cancer, malaria, and Parkinson’s disease. You see, these diseases affect the body in a way that also affects the smell. Researchers hope that the novel coronavirus acts in the same way.
So, will the technique be effective? Teams from The London School, the UK’s Durham University, and the charity Medical Detection Dogs certainly hope so! After a few preliminary tests, the UK Government saw promise, investing over $600,000 in the research. While the research is certainly serious, the training is equally cute!
About The Training Process
So far, researchers are looking at labradors and cocker spaniels as the most likely breeds to be successful. The training and testing begins with the researchers collecting samples of both coronavirus and non-coronavirus body odor, typically used face masks or socks. While socks might seem a little strange, “that this is a really good way of collecting odors from people, and it’s such an easy way to do it,” one researcher commented. Then, the scientists train each dog as you would with any other scent, from narcotics to cancer. Finally, as seen in the picture above, the dogs track down samples with those smells!
For those worried about the dogs catching or spreading the coronavirus, no need. The researchers are keeping the dogs clean and in good conditions, and they will be looked for when working at the airport. “Our dogs will be trained on a dead virus and then have no contact with the individuals they are screening but will sniff the air around the person,” says representative Gemma Butlin. “The dogs will only be permitted to be touched by the handler, which therefore means there will be a very low risk of spread of the virus from the dog to their handler or to the people they live with.”
While the research is still ongoing, things look promising so far. Expect an announcement in the next few months, hopefully, a successful one! It’ll make working at the airport faster and easier. Plus, dogs are always cute and will ease the stress of people catching flights during the pandemic and recession.