Coronavirus. Dogs are better and faster at detecting COVID-19 than PCR testing. New research

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The dog’s nose may be less likely to detect COVID-19 than other methods so far used to confirm the presence of the coronavirus. While the scent of these animals can be as effective as lab tests, it is better to identify infection in asymptomatic individuals who show no symptoms of infection. In addition, dogs can act quickly and even get the right result within seconds. PCR tests give the same answer up to two days later – show the results of scientific research published on June 1, 2022 in the pages of the prestigious medical journal “PLOS One”.

Dogs’ sense of smell copes best with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. It even detects them 2 days faster than PCR tests

While it has long been known that dogs have an excellent sense of smell and with proper training can correctly identify who may be infected with the coronavirus, it was previously uncertain how effective they are compared to other tests used to identify coronavirus infection. †

The researchers showed that in sweat samples collected from 335 people, trained dogs recognized SARS-CoV-2 infection at 97 percent. accurate and were able to correctly identify all 31 COVID-19 cases in 192 people who had no symptoms of the disease.

The dog’s nose never lies, but PCR tests can sometimes fail in several ways, says Dominique Grandjean, a French veterinarian at the National School of Veterinary Medicine, one of the authors of the latest publication in PLOS One.

Studies have shown that dogs’ sense of smell could identify more COVID-19 cases than antigen testing and many so-called home coronavirus tests available on the market. Although dogs sometimes confused SARS-CoV-2 with another respiratory virus, they proved to be most effective at detecting asymptomatic cases of coronavirus infection, identifying the infection up to two days earlier than the PCR test.

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The dog gives the right result in no time. In these places it will work better than PCR testing

Dogs’ sense of smell can be especially helpful in mass screening conducted in places such as airports, stadiums, concert halls, or for various types of events with many people. This method can be a good alternative to standard nasal or nasopharyngeal swabs.

In this case, one of the biggest advantages of these animals is speed compared to other methods of diagnosing COVID-19, the researchers emphasize. Even the so-called coronavirus rapid tests do not give the correct results as quickly as dogs. Their perfect sense of smell helps them to give the right result even within seconds.

How long does it take to train dogs to detect COVID-19?

Training in which dogs learn to recognize the scent that indicates COVID-19 usually takes 3 to 6 weeks. As a reward for giving the correct result after inhaling sweat samples or used masks placed in special cones, animals have the opportunity to play with tennis balls.

How are dogs trained to detect the presence of the coronavirus?How are dogs trained to detect the presence of the coronavirus? PLOS One / Dominique GRANDJEAN / Open Access

Previous results from a smaller study group have also shown that dogs can do just as well or even better than PCR testing at detecting the coronavirus. However, scientists are still unable to explain in detail which processes are responsible for the fact that dog scent can achieve such phenomenal effects.

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source: PLOS One

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