Can sniffer dogs really detect COVID-19 almost as well as a PCR test?

Dogs have an exceptional sense of smell. We take advantage of this ability in many ways, including by training them to find illicit drugs, dangerous goods and even people.

In recent years, a dog’s sense of smell has also been used in the medical field. These remarkable animals can be trained to sniff out cancer, diabetes, and extraordinarily, epileptic seizures before they occur.

Early in the pandemic the possibility of using dogs to sniff out COVID was explored in a few countries. And although the results of these early trials surpassed most people’s expectations, many questions remained. These included how well these findings would stand up to more rigorous scientific scrutiny and how well dogs would perform outside the artificial environment of the research laboratory.

In the past week we have moved closer to answering these questions, with an article published in BMJ Global Health, which found dogs could detect COVID almost as well as PCR tests, in some circumstances.


Read more: Yes, dogs can sniff out COVID. But not after dinner, when they need a nap.

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