Sniffer dogs in Thailand have been trained to detect Covid-19 in just two seconds.
The six Labrador Retrievers are able to sniff out signs of the coronavirus through people’s perspiration – even when they have no symptoms.
Researchers at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok found that coronavirus patients emitted a distinct scent through their sweat, that allowed the dogs to detect the virus.
The Labrador Retrievers have now been trained to identify people carrying Covid-19 following a six month project with Chevron Thailand Ltd. They have a 94.8 per cent accuracy rate.
Professor Kaywalee Chatdarong, the leader of the project at the veterinary faculty, said: ‘Dogs have a sense of smell that is 50 times better than humans, so we wanted to use this potential. Six Labrador Retrievers participated in the project as they have long nasal cavities and friendly traits.
‘The team collected samples of sweat from infected people, which did not contain any viral contaminations. We wiped the sweat with cotton wool and socks and kept them in a lab. They were then put in a can so the dogs could smell them. When the dogs smelled signs of the infection, they sat down.’
Within six months, the project was divided in three stages. The sniffer dogs were trained in the first two months, and were sent to the real scenarios, namely airports, harbours and tourist attractions in the second stage. Training dogs to smell from human feet and implementing sensors will be part of the third phase.
The professor added: ‘The sniffer dogs will be prototypes for Thailand’s medical dogs. In the future, we will develop the model to detect other diseases such as diabetes, depression, malaria and Alzheimer’s.’