COVID-sniffer dogs prepped for Bangkok streets

THE NATION – Thailand’s Social Development and Human Security Minister Juti Krairiksh said volunteers were being sent to the sniffer-dog project at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science.

The project team has trained six Labrador retrievers to sniff out COVID-19 in human sweat.

Chula’s Deputy Dean for Research and Innovation Dr Kewali Chatdarong said the project utilised the dogs’ sense of smell – which is 50 times greater than that of humans – to detect infection in humans.

The project was conducted by placing cotton wool and socks into cans for dogs to sniff. The dogs were successfully trained to sit when they detected COVID-19 in sweat on the fabric.

The Labradors were found to have an accuracy of 94.8 per cent in detecting asymptomatic patients. The dogs will be used to complement normal screening operations.

Juti said at least two ministry volunteers will be sent to each of Bangkok’s 50 districts, where they will train others to conduct sniffer-dog screening operations. The dogs will offer an alternative, speedy method to testing for COVID-19, especially when it comes to screening bedridden patients.

Sniffer dog Bravo is one of the six Labrador Retrievers trained to detect COVID-19 patients, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, with an accuracy of 94.8 per cent. PHOTO: BERNAMA