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Police dogs could be the future of COVID-19 testing

Police dogs could be the future of COVID-19 testing

Dogs are able to accurately detect the compounds released by the human body

© Altino Dantas / Unsplash
Dogs are able to accurately detect the compounds released by the human body

Scientists and dog handlers from all over the world are investigating the possibility of dogs being infected with SARS-Covid-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19, even in people without symptoms.

Police dogs are already being used to detect other types of diseases, such as cancer and hypoglycemia.

This type of test is possible because dogs have more than 300 million odor receptors. In comparison, humans possess around 5 million.

Therefore, animals are able to detect compounds released by the human body with a high degree of accuracy. They can, for example, learn how secretions such as sweat and saliva interact with the Coronavirus.

In July of last year, scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover discovered that trained sniffer dogs could be used To detect COVID-19 in human samples Relatively high resolution.

Eight police dogs of the German Armed Forces were trained for a week to distinguish between mucus and saliva from Sars-Cov-2-infected patients and healthy individuals. The animals were able to positively detect infected secretions with a success rate of 83% and control of secretions with a success rate of 96%. The overall detection rate, which combined the two, was 94%.

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Dominique Grandjean, a professor at the National Veterinary School in Alfort, France, told the newspaper Wall Street Journal That with covid-19,It is the first time that dogs have detected a viral disease in humansGrandjean is one of the first researchers to evaluate the potential for detecting covid-19 by sniffer dogs.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating a working group with international researchers to investigate the ability of sniffer dogs to detect disease and thus integrate a list of diagnostic methods. In addition to being non-invasive, detection by dogs will save time and money.

The dog, according to the World Health Organization, can screen 250 to 300 people per day. According to Grandjean, in France, tests on police dogs should cost 1 € per person (about 6.50 BRL). The PCR test is performed for 75 EUR per person (approximately 485 BRL).

According to the studies already conducted, the French researcher said, dogs can be trained to recognize COVID-19 infections with a rate of 82% to 99% sensitivity and 84% to 98% specificity.

Allergy is the ability to properly detect an infection. Privacy shows how well the test prevents false positives.

In theory, any dog ​​can be trained. But training is faster when training animals already used to detect explosives or other diseases – as happened in Germany.

Grandjean led a study of 21 police dogs. Of these, 15 people were able to detect COVID-19 with sensitivity of 90% or more. The other 6 had a sensitivity of 71% to 87%.

According to a recent review by Cochrane, a British company that evaluates scientific research, rapid antigen tests correctly identify Sars-CoV-2 infection with an average of 72% in people with symptoms and 58% in people without symptoms. This means that dogs can be more proficient from this type of test.

Dogs are already being used to screen for the virus

The UAE is already investing in training sniffer dogs. Guillaume Alvarnat, an advisor to the International Affairs Office at the Ministry of the Interior, told Wall Street Journal The country has 39 animals that are used to rate people at malls and public events. According to Alvergnat, the UAE has the capacity to train dog handlers from other countries.

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In France, according to Granjin, about 1,000 police dogs work in government institutions and can be trained quickly to detect and spread the Coronavirus in locations such as airports, concert halls and sports facilities.

Sports and entertainment events are already driving demand in the United States.

Miami-based Sniff Screening introduced police dogs to test gifts at Miami Heat basketball matches from January to April.

Nascar, the American association responsible for motorsports competitions, used police dogs to screen drivers, mechanics, and other personnel at the races at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Darlington Raceway.