Researchers Find Dogs Can Sniff Out the Coronavirus 94 Percent of the Time

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Dogs may serve a very important role in the current COVID-19 crisis.

Researchers in Germany trained dogs are able to sniff out the coronavirus infection 94 percent of the time, according to their study at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover.

The team borrowed eight dogs from Germany’s Armed Forces and trained them to distinguish the difference in saliva from people who are healthy and those who are infected with the virus. The sample size was more than 1,000 people.

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“We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients,” Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university, who conducted the study, said in a YouTube video about the project, noting that the metabolic process of those who become infected with the virus completely changes.

The potential ability to sniff out COVID-19 is promising, but shouldn’t be surprising. Dogs’ noses are much stronger than ours. They have 300 million olfactory receptor cells, compared to our 5 million, making their nose 60 times stronger than ours. Because of this, dogs have been used to detect a number of conditions and diseases in people, including cancer, diabetes and even human feces in water.

The next step after this pilot study is to train the dogs to differentiate between the COVID-19 virus and other diseases, such as the flu.

Related: How Dogs Are Comforting Us During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The hope is that dogs may be able to detect those infected with COVID-19 in large public places, like airports, while also assisting laboratory testing facilities.

The study was published in BMC Infectious Diseases.