As if you needed any more proof that dogs are literally the MVPs of all time, you can add real-time coronavirus testers to the list of amazing things they can do. Professional sniffer dogs have already mastered the art of searching for people, drugs, bombs, cancers, and other medical conditions, so it's not totally surprising that they can be trained to sniff out COVID-19, too. The University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover worked with the German army to train dogs to see if they could tell the difference between samples that were infected with coronavirus, and samples that were not, the BBC reported. In the study, which was published online in BMC Infectious Diseases on July 23, found was that after only a week of training, eight dogs were able to accurately tell the difference between positive and negative samples in 94% of trials. Those are some very good boys.
While Germany might have reported the first breakthrough, researchers around the world have been working with dogs for the same reason since the pandemic began. In April, The Washington Post reported that a research project at the University of Pennsylvania was working to train Labrador Retrievers to sniff out characteristics of COVID-19, too. A similar effort is being made at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a lab that previously demonstrated that dogs could smell malaria infections in humans. Researchers in London are hopeful that if training goes well, dogs could assess up to 250 people per hour. In Chile, dogs are working with the police to learn the scent of coronavirus, a skill that they hope will allow them to re-open businesses by the end of the summer.
Researchers say the ability to use dogs as a resource for coronavirus testing could be an extremely useful protective measure used in large crowds like sports arenas, airports, and other transportation hubs. Theoretically, if dogs could be trained to master these skills, they could help to ensure the safety of business re-openings around the world. What's more, as testing centers and labs continue to deal with delays due to surges, virus-sniffing pups could be an effective testing alternative. More research needs to be done to see if this could be deployed at scale, of course, but it's a promising development indeed.