Sniffer Dogs: Accuracy Rate in detecting Coronavirus by Ananya Rajput

Sniffer dogs also known as detection dogs are trained in a way so that it could help police to detect suspects like explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood and electronics such as illicit mobile phones which are used for illegal things. They are trained in a way so that they can uses their sense which is smell to detect objects. The smell these dogs have are more upgraded than an average and a normal dog. Hunting dogs that search for game, and searching dogs that often finds missing people don’t fall under this criteria. Police Dogs is a dog that is being used in order to detect, as a resource for police, custom scenarios, raids, drug activity, missing persons, search, criminals, and the hidden currencies of search.

In last few months it has been observed that sniffer dogs have detected persons infected with coronavirus and the accuracy rate of such has been high. Earlier the dogs were trained to detect cancer in patients but now the role of sniffer or detection dogs has been a subject of study and a number of experiments has been conducted in this pandemic.

These dogs are mostly used to detect the patients suffering from coronavirus in crowded place and those who are identified have to go the RT-PCR test for the surety.

According to Medical Detections Dogs, the dog sense of smell is raised because of the unique structure of their nose, and they have the ability to detect odors that humans cannot.

Now, here a main question arises that can dogs be a substitute for RT-PCR test? According to a study done in UK it was seen that using trained dogs followed by a confirm test report, they can detect nearly 91% of infections in asymptomatic as well as in a symptomatic person.

The very main advantage of these dogs is that they are really quick to detect that particular smell. For speeding up the testing process it is best to use the dogs, so that the person who has been tested positive for the infection by the dogs can go up for RT-PCR, which will reduce the burden on the testing centers. But these studies and experiments were done in a trained environment, and so the effectiveness of trained dogs is still a question and is yet to be determined in the real world.

Holger Volk, a veterinary neurologist, said that there cannot be any surety that PCR tests can be replaced by the dogs but yes dogs can be very promising in this matter. For coronavirus, last year Dubai Airport became the world’s first to deploy dogs to detect such infections among the passengers.

In India, The Indian army has started to train the dogs to find COVID-19 in their areas by sniffing the persons’ sweat and urine. Based on the data which has been collected till now shows 95% accuracy rate by the dogs. Dogs would allow quicker detection of the disease and reduce the need for tests in remote locations. As we know that the testing process is so slow in our nation people cannot get tested and because of that when they reach on a critical condition then the doctors are not in a position to do anything to save a person’s life. If we introduce trained dogs in this, then the symptomatic and asymptomatic can be detected at an early stage, giving them time to cure themselves with this deadly virus.

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