PHN Explores: UK researchers hope dogs can be trained to detect coronavirus (from The Guardian-UK)

PHN Content By Mat Edelson


If We Had Written the Headline

Good Dog!

Why You Should Care

Hey, the nose knows. And you probably know that dogs have been trained to sniff out drugs and bombs. But they’ve also taken on diseases including cancer. And now, UK researchers are seeing whether they can be trained as early detectors of the coronavirus.


What's New(s)

One of the biggest challenges of the coronavirus outbreak has been detecting people who are infected and contagious, but they don’t realize it because they have no symptoms. The idea here is that if dogs can be trained to sniff out coronavirus, they could, according to researchers, screen up to 250 people an hour in places such as airports or malls. The U.K. government has committed a half-million pounds to the test project.

It’s not a farfetched concept. Dogs–and their highly efficient shnozzes–are adept at picking up the smells of tiny diseased cells exhaled by people. This has been the case with lung cancer cells. They’re even able to detect severe blood sugar drops in diabetics.

As The Guardian’s story expert, James Logan, notes, “Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour…this, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect Covid-19.”


Story Source

The Guardian, May 15, 2020, by Frances Perraudin. Visit the story


Story Expert

James Logan, PhD, head of disease control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Bonus Biscuit

As long as we’re on the subject of helpful dogs; here’s one you don’t even have to feed: Singapore government deploys robotic dog to enforce social distancing guidelines (From The World/Public Radio International)

Related Stories

Here’s the U.K. government’s press release on the trial: COVID-19 detection dogs trial launches