UK charity medical detection dogs  announces exciting progress in its study to investigate whether specially trained dogs can sniff out COVID-19, even in asymptomatic cases. in phase 1 of the experiment, which was carried out in collaboration with the london school of hygiene & tropical medicine and durham university, six dogs were tasked with identifying the unique odor of the virus. the results showed a sensitivity of up to 94.3% and up to 92% specificity. while the dogs wouldn’t replace standard testing, they could be deployed in large public settings like airports as a first rapid screening method.

dogs sniff out COVID-19 with 94% accuracy in latest trials

image by neil pollock (also main image)



to carry out the trial, 3,750 people across the UK donated samples of worn clothes for the dogs to smell: from socks to facemasks. the dogs then sniffed the items attached to metal stands. if the clothing smelled of COVID-19, the dog would indicate it to their handler. if they couldn’t smell the virus, they would simply walk past the sample with no indication. if they were correct, the dogs would be rewarded with a treat or ball game.


‘it proves the positive impact dogs, with their rapid turn-around time, could have for mass screening alongside a confirmatory PCR test as we continue to battle the pandemic. we believe that their noses could provide a strong line of defense against future pandemics,’  said chief scientific officer and principal investigator on the trial, claire guest, in a statement on the medical detection dogs website.