Scent business opportunity to use Covid sniffer dogs in the UK

Schools, hospitals and businesses in the UK are looking at the use of Covid sniffer dogs as a new method of detecting the virus alongside more conventional testing methods.

ONE Study in the UK published in May of this year by an academic consortium found that canines have a better record of capturing the presence of Covid-19 in humans than lateral flow tests, with a degree of accuracy The accuracy is not far behind the “gold standard” PCR tests.

Concern from organizations around the country about whether specially trained dogs can be deployed to detect Covid at the entrances to nightclubs, pubs, conventions, schools, hospitals and airport or not is increasing.

Amazon Studios, an American production and distribution company, recently used trained dogs to screen more than 200 cast and crew during a feature film shoot in London.

In the fall, the UK government held talks with the consortium over the use of Covid sniffers at the COP26 climate summit to test the thousands of daily visitors to the Glasgow event.

In the end, the ministers decided not to proceed because of concerns about the potential for “cultural sensitivity” to animals among delegates from around 200 countries.

Other countries have also tested Covid sniffer dogs. Last year Helsinki Airport operated a pilot, while more recently, the police in Dubai trains 38 sniffer dogs to detect the virus, according to Reuters.

Professor James Logan: ‘Two dogs can scan an entire plane with more than 300 people when they disembark in just 30 minutes’ © Joe Giddens/PA

James Logan, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study in partnership with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, says cancers and diseases vary. has its own “smell signature”, which can be detected by gun breeds. such as Labradors and cocker spaniels.

“We are not saying that dogs can replace LFT and PCR but they can be a complementary tool in some cases,” he said. “Two dogs can inspect an entire plane with more than 300 people when they get off the plane in just 30 minutes.”

Claire Guest, chief executive officer of Medical Detection Dogs, said: “A huge number of people and organizations are concerned. We have been given a great opportunity for UK innovation in the UK[with]. . . The final stage [trials] in the workplace. . . some of the NHS partners, there is interest from schools. ”

Covid-19 has a “very, very unique smell”, meaning that animals don’t have to struggle to detect it even in a crowd of people.

“They can do this incredibly quickly, it only takes 0.5 seconds of sniffing to tell if someone has Covid,” she said.

The study, funded in part by the department of health, used six dogs to sniff out more than 3,500 odor samples. The animals detected the presence of the Sars-Cov-2 virus with 82 to 94% accuracy.

That is less effective than PCR tests, which are 97% sensitive, but more successful than side-flow tests that, on average, detect 72% of cases are symptomatic, and 58% of those with no symptoms.

However, unlike the LFT, the dogs have had a significant number of false positives, when people have been misidentified as having Covid. But the report authors argue that forcing a small number of people to do PCR for verification is less disruptive than testing an entire group.

Medical detection dogs perform training exercises with Florin © Matthew Childs / Reuters

After performing the first study in a controlled environment, the consortium is promoting direct trials with about 20 dogs.

“We have been in discussions with a number of organizations for some time, including local authorities, not just in the UK, airlines, airports and workplaces,” said Logan.

Amazon Studios used two dogs for several weeks, along with routine tests, during filming The people we hate at the wedding.

“It worked so well, we used them to test supporting artists who would be close to the main actors,” said Rich Gold, Covid compliance officer at Amazon Studios. plastic test.

“We are dealing with an industry where you have to travel every day to different locations, and if one person comes to work with Covid, it can shut down an entire million dollar manufacturing operation.

He added: “Having dogs, is a quick, easy and non-invasive way to check.

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