Dog Sniffs Identify Covid-19 Faster, Cheaper, and More Accurately than Antigen Tests

(p. A6) A growing body of research by scientists and dog trainers from the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates suggests that dogs can use their powerful sense of smell to sniff out Covid-19 infections, including in people without symptoms.

With more than 300 million scent receptors (compared with roughly five million in humans), dogs can do this with a high degree of accuracy by detecting compounds the human body releases in secretions like sweat and saliva as it reacts to the coronavirus, according to scientists.

Dogs have long been trained to detect odors associated with drugs or explosives and have also been used to identify diseases such as cancer, malaria and diabetes.

. . .

One dog can screen 250 to 300 people a day, according to the WHO.

Prof. Grandjean calculated that dog screenings in France could cost as little as one euro, equivalent to about $1.20, per person, as opposed to roughly €75 for a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, a highly accurate test that involves a nasal swab.

. . .

Studies have shown that dogs can be trained to identify Covid-19 infections with roughly 82% to 99% sensitivity and 84% to 98% specificity, Prof. Grandjean said. A test’s sensitivity indicates its ability to correctly detect an infection, while its specificity shows how well it can avoid giving false positives.

Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany, trained eight dogs for one week to detect respiratory secretions from infected patients with an average detection rate of 94%, according to a study published recently in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases

In a study of 21 dogs led by Prof. Grandjean, 15 of the animals were able to detect Covid-19 with a sensitivity of 90% or more, with six dogs showing a sensitivity of 71% to 87%. The study was published in April in the Open Access Journal of Veterinary Science and Research.

Such results mean dogs may be more precise than many rapid antigen tests, which correctly identify Covid-19 infections in an average of 72% of people showing symptoms and 58% of asymptomatic people, according to a recent review from Cochrane, a U.K.-based nonprofit that evaluates scientific research.

For the full story see:

Ruth Bender and Rachel Bachman. “Dogs Deployed to Sniff Out Covid.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 20, 2021): A6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 19, 2021, and has the title “Your Next Covid-19 Test Could Be a Dog’s Sniff.”)

The articles mentioned in the passages above are:

Jendrny, Paula, Claudia Schulz, Friederike Twele, Sebastian Meller, Maren von Köckritz-Blickwede, Albertus Dominicus Marcellinus Erasmus Osterhaus, Janek Ebbers, Veronika Pilchová, Isabell Pink, Tobias Welte, Michael Peter Manns, Anahita Fathi, Christiane Ernst, Marylyn Martina Addo, Esther Schalke, and Holger Andreas Volk. “Scent Dog Identification of Samples from Covid-19 Patients – a Pilot Study.” BMC Infectious Diseases 20, no. 1 (2020). DOI:10.1186/s12879-020-05281-3

Grandjean, Dominique, Dana Humaid Al Marzooqi, Clothilde Lecoq-Julien, Quentin Muzzin, Hamad Katir Al Hammadi, Guillaume Alvergnat, Kalthoom Mohammad Al Blooshi, Salah Khalifa Al Mazrouei, Mohammed Saeed Alhmoudi, Faisal Musleh Al Ahbabi, Yasser Saifallah Mohammed, Nasser Mohammed Alfalasi, Noor Majed Almheiri, Sumaya Mohamed Al Blooshi, and Loïc Desquilbet. “Use of Canine Olfactory Detection for Covid-19 Testing Study on U.A.E. Trained Detection Dog Sensitivity ” Open Access Journal of Veterinary Science & Research (OAJVSR) 6, no. 2 (May 2021). DOI: 10.23880/oajvsr-16000210.

Dinnes, J., J. J. Deeks, S. Berhane, M. Taylor, A. Adriano, C. Davenport, S. Dittrich, D. Emperador, Y. Takwoingi, J. Cunningham, and et al. “Rapid, Point‐of‐Care Antigen and Molecular‐Based Tests for Diagnosis of Sars‐Cov‐2 Infection.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, no. 3 (2021). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013705.pub2

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