Dogs can sniff out coronavirus with 94% accuracy, German study claims raising hopes for instant tests at airports

A GERMAN study has claimed they have dogs which can sniff out coronavirus with 94 per cent accuracy – raising hopes of instant tests at airports and sporting events.

Dogs have smell receptors that are up to 10,000 times more powerful and accurate than humans.

That allows trained dogs to be able to detect diseases like malaria, cancer or viral infections – just from the whiff of a dodgy scent.

German researchers now claim they have trained dogs who can also detect coronavirus from someone's saliva.

The potentially ground-breaking study was piloted by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, the Hannover Medical School and the German Armed Forces.

They found that, if properly trained, dogs were able to discriminate between human saliva samples infected with SARS-CoV-2 and non-infected samples with a whopping success rate of 94 per cent overall.

There is hope that this could help prevent further outbreaks due to the rapid nature of the testing.

It could also lead to instant testing at sporting events and airports, allowing countries to scrap some quarantining measures and empty stadium rules.

To conduct the study, researchers trained eight dogs from Germany's Armed Forces for one week.

The trained canines sniffed the saliva of more than 1,000 people that were either healthy or infected with the virus.

Samples infected with Covid-19 were distributed at random and neither the animal handlers nor the researchers on site knew which ones were positive.

In a Youtube video on the project, Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university who conducted the study, says researchers think dogs can do this because the internal processes of an infected person "completely change".

She said: "We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients."

Ms Von Koeckritz-Blickwede says the next step is to train dogs to differentiate Covid-19 samples from other diseases like the flu, while other research will also need to be carried out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that while dogs can get infected with Covid-19, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus.

The study was published in BMC Infectious Diseases on July 23.

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