A French study revealed that trained dogs are a very reliable means of detecting COVID-19 by smell, with a level of sensitivity that is around 97 percent than the PCR tests offer.
The investigation was carried out with sweat samples taken with compresses from 335 people who came for coronavirus tests between March 16 and April 9.
According Dominique grandjean, one of the researchers from the Alfort National Veterinary School (EnvA) responsible for the study, the results “exceeded expectations”
In a video released by EnvA, Grandjean explained that once the samples were collected, they were presented to nine dogs that had no contact with those people, of which 109 were positive when subjected to a PCR test that was carried out from the cells collected with a swab inserted into the nostrils.
Animals who were part of the investigation, some of whom work with firefighters in France and others came from the United Arab Emirates, identified 97 percent of the positive sweat pads, which translates into a confidence interval of between 92 and 99 percent.
The EnvA, which launched the investigation in association with the body that brings together public hospitals in the Paris region (AP-HP), with the Regional Health Agency and with the Ile de France region itself, stressed in a statement that dogs do not need more than “a fraction of a second” for each exam.
This is an advantage in terms of time, compared to the PCR test that requires several hours in the laboratory, but also in terms of cost, and is less invasive for people.
Confirmation of the effectiveness of this method, which is the first study of its kind at the international level, could open the way to a wider use of this procedure, for example, to decide which people should undergo a virological test and facilitate mass detection thanks to the rapid response of dogs.
Beyond covid, this technique offers “promising” prospects for the diagnosis of other diseases. The use of the smell of dogs to detect coronavirus patients has spread in recent months in many countries.