Man’s best friend could help out in the fight against COVID-19. The New York Post explains that at the University of Pennsylvania and at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, pups are being trained to sniff out the virus.”The life-saving pooches will likely be used to screen people at airports, businesses, and hospitals to prevent the pathogen from spreading.”
James Logan, head of the London university’s disease control department, says “Each individual dog can screen up to 250 people per hour.” He also says, “We are simultaneously working on a model to scale it up so it can be deployed in other countries at ports of entry, including airports.” Canines have been trained in the past to detect diseases like malaria and cancer.
So far, at the University of Pennsylvania, eight Labrador retrievers have started training and learning to identify an odor for a food reward. They will then train them using urine and saliva samples from patients who have both tested positive and negative for the virus. Doctors explain that after that, the final (and most difficult) stage will be to teach the dogs to sniff out coronavirus in a human.
The New York Post mentions that if the demand for these dogs are high, doctors will go even further. “Chemists and physicists may then use what they learn from the animals to create an electronic ‘nose’ or sensor to identify the pathogen.”