Additionally, dogs can be trained with sweat, saliva, or urine. In the United Arab Emirates, dogs worked with urine samples. In Miami, they just walked along a line of people.
Any positive cases of Covid infection that dogs detect are usually confirmed with what is now the gold standard for confirming the presence of the coronavirus, a PCR test. A review of the research published last week, however, concluded that the dogs performed better than the test.
But these are experimental results. Dogs are good at detecting explosives and other substances from a distance, but so far Dr Otto said she was not aware of any published research proving the accuracy of dogs sniffing people online rather than l urine or sweat.
If the government were to officially drive or approve dogs for Covid detection, certain standards should be set on how dogs should be trained and how their performance should be evaluated. Dr Otto is part of a committee of the National Institute of Standards and Technology that is currently meeting to develop standards for odor detection dogs in various situations, including detection of Covid.
She said that while the standards are clearly set, finding enough dogs to do widespread odor detection is another hurdle. Trained dogs are not easy to find. “We are running out of dogs in this country to detect bombs. We’ve been dealing with it for years, ”she said.
Dogs can be recycled from one scent to another, but that in itself can be tricky. “Some countries actually take their bomb-trained dogs and train them for Covid. But you know all you have to do is think about an airport, if you have a dog that sniffs both the Covid and the bombs and alerts, what have you got?