Trained dogs able to detect COVID-19 with high accuracy

New study supports theory dogs can be trained to detect presence or absence of COVID-19

What You Should Know About the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic continues around the world, scientists are looking for more and better ways to test people.

Volatile organic compounds produced during respiratory infections, like COVID-19, can have specific scent imprints that trained dogs can detect with a high rate of precision, researchers in Germany said.

The team used eight dogs trained for a week to detect saliva or tracheobronchial secretions, from SARS-CoV-2 positive patients. The dogs were subjected to a randomized, double-blinded and controlled study setup.

The research team determined the dogs could distinguish between positive and negative samples, with an average diagnostic sensitivity of 82.63%.

The dogs were better at detecting individuals who were not infected. When presented with 1,012 randomized samples, the dogs achieved an overall detection rate of 94% (±3.4% error). The detection rate had an 83% success rate from infected secretions and a 96% success rate with control secretions.

The German researchers note several studies have proved dogs’ ability to detect infectious and noninfectious diseases, like cancer, malaria, and bacterial and viral infections with usually high rates of sensitivity and specificity.

Although they say larger studies are needed, the research team believes the data could form the basis for the reliable screening method of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infected people.