Thailand’s Covid-19 dog sniffing unit makes official debut detecting people infected with virus


Thailand’s Covid-19 dog sniffing unit made an official debut yesterday (June 17) showing how they can detect infected people.

Six Labrador Retrievers were trained by veterinarians from the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to identify those carrying the virus from the scent of their sweat.

The pooches screened 500 private company employees in trials and had a successful detection rate of 95 per cent including those who were asymptomatic.

After the group’s debut yesterday (June 17), they will travel in a medical van across Thailand to reach remote communities where clusters of cases develop, while the handlers will provide wider access to Covid-19 testing.

Research team head Kaywalee Chatdrong said: ‘Sweat samples were taken from the patients through cotton swabbing in armpits as well as collecting socks.

‘The dogs would then smell the cans were the cotton and socks were placed. If a patient turned out to be positive, the dogs would sit in front of the sample.’

The professor added that Labradors Retrievers have long snouts and were generally friendly so they were chosen for the project.

He said: ‘These dogs have longer snouts so their sense of smell is remarkable. They were also friendly and smart around people.’

Due to the project’s success, another unit of dogs was set to be trained to detect other diseases such as depression, diabetes, Malaria, and Alzheimer’s.

Thailand has recorded 210,782 Covid-19 cases and 1,577 deaths as of June 18. Ministers hope a vaccine rollout which started this month will allow them to re-open the country to international tourists before the end of the year.