Biosensor dogs can identify the odor of COVID-19 with an accuracy rate of up to 94%, according to a preliminary study by the British association Medical Detection Dogs published Monday.

The research, conducted in conjunction with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, used samples from more than 3,750 people, such as used shirts, masks and socks, to train six dogs to detect COVID-19.

The initial results, still pending external review by other scientists, suggest that the dogs were able to identify the disease in 94% of cases, a precision higher than that offered by antigen tests, between 58% and 77 %.

The preliminary study also shows that a single dog can examine up to 250 people in an hour, considerably faster than other COVID-19 detection methods, experts point out.


Research indicates that trained dogs could be of great help as a first rapid detection tool in public spaces, such as airports, if used in conjunction with traditional methods, such as PCR testing, to confirm results.

“Knowing that we can harness the amazing power of a dog’s nose to detect COVID-19 quickly and non-invasively gives us hope of returning to a more normal way of life,” Claire Guest, Scientific Director of Medical Detection Dogs and lead author of the trial.

“The highest number of cases on this site was registered in January with around 16 cases, but it was acted quickly. That made the population from that time until now remain at 0 cases and that is the same on the other islands” experts explained.

In the study, the dogs – four Labradors, a Golden Retriever and a Working Cocker Spaniel – sniffed samples on a rack system that required a “yes or no” decision in each case.

If they identified the presence of COVID-19, the dogs gave directions such as sitting, pushing or staring ahead, and if they were correct, they received food or toys as a reward.

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