Coronavirus breakthrough: Dogs used to sniff out deadly virus in revolutionary new test

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Dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 times more accurate than humans’ thanks to their powerful smell receptors. Thanks to specialised training, dogs are able to detect diseases such as malaria, cancer or viral infections just by sniffing a person.

German researchers said they were able to train dogs to sniff out coronavirus from a saliva sample.

The study, which is ongoing, was conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, the Hanover Medical School and the German Armed Forces.

The teams found that, if qualified, canines were able to tell apart saliva samples containing coronavirus and samples from healthy people, observing a success rate of 94 percent overall.

The new research brings hopes that a simple procedure with trained dogs could prevent future waves of infections.

Airports and sporting events could highly benefit from the immediate nature of the test.

It would also allow countries to notably relax their lockdown restrictions.

During the research efforts, experts trained eight dogs from Germany’s Armed Forces for one week.

The animals sniffed the saliva of more than 1,000 people, some of which were healthy while others were carriers of coronavirus.

Samples containing coronavirus were placed randomly and neither animal handlers nor the researchers on site were told which ones contained COVID-19.

In footage of the study shared to YouTube, Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university who took part in the study, says researchers believe dogs are able to identify the disease because the internal processes of a person who has the virus “completely change”.

She said: “We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients.”

Ms Von Koeckritz-Blickwede said next, trained dogs will be taught how to differentiate coronavirus from other diseases such as flu.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that while dogs can get infected with coronavirus, there is no evidence to suggest that animals play a critical role in the its transmission.

The research was published in BioMed Central Infectious Diseases on July 23.

It comes after a new international survey suggested that people over six feet tall “have double the risk” of catching coronavirus.

A total of 2,000 people in the UK and US (1,000 in each country) took part in the study.

Early findings “significantly” indicate that the virus could be transmitted through the air, known as aerosol transmission.

Professor Evan Kontopantelis, from The University of Manchester, said: “The results of this survey in terms of associations between height and diagnosis suggest downward droplet transmission is not the only transmission mechanism and aerosol transmission is possible.

“This has been suggested by other studies but our method of confirmation is novel.

“Though social distancing is still important because transmission by droplets is still likely to occur, it does suggest that mask wearing may be just as if not more effective in prevention.

“But also, air purification in interior spaces should be further explored.”

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