The importatn research has started in the Campus Bio-Medico, Rome.
Three dogs, a team of researchers, and a hopeful innovation. They are the sniffer dogs for Covid.
The international research(es)
The studies started at the end of 2020, although not in Italy. In fact, Germany and Finland led the charge. At least at first.
The website Nature reports that a German team of the International K9 Team started showing the first, positive results. Meanwhile, the first country to use sniffer dogs for Covid was Finland. In the fall of 2020, four dogs started a pilot scheme in the Helsinki’s airport. The pilot included taking samples of people’s sweat to check it against conventional tests.
While the research is at the beginning stages in most countries, some results are already available. So, what do the studies suggest?
The website Nature reports the research of the Volk’s group. They “trained eight dogs on samples taken from the mouths and windpipes of seven people hospitalized with COVID-19 and seven uninfected people. The dogs identified 83% of positive cases and 96% of negative ones.”
On the other hand, a French group of researchers from the National Veterinary School of Alfort used eight dogs and 198 sweat samples. And the animals “identified the positive samples 83–100% of the time.”
One of the most recent studies is the 2021 paper by BMC Infectious Diseases. It featured three dogs, seven weeks of observations, and over 100 samples during two verification tests. In the end, the sniffer dogs had “65% of sensitivity and 89% of specificity and they amanged to identify 17 out of the 26 positive and 48 out of the 54 true negative samples.”
Indeed, it seems like the results are positive, no matter the country.
Sniffer dogs for Covid, Italy joins in
The Italian team of researchers went to work in March 2021. The study will include three dogs (and three more to join later) and their training at the Campus Bio-Medico in Rome. The research has two steps.
The first phase includes the training, which aims to detect a person’s smell. And to differentiate it between someone affected by Covid-19 and someone who isn’t. Through the smell and their noses, the dogs should be able to identify the difference. The second phase includes using the sniffer dogs for Covid at the Campus’ drive-in. At the drive-in, people can take their test. And the dogs will have to smell the samples. Researchers will compare the two results to see the animals’ accuracy.
Ideally, the samples will be over 1000. And the results should be available by the end of summer 2021.
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