Thai sniffer dogs make COVID detection debut

These labrador retrievers have been officially deployed as Thailand's newest alternative method to detect coronavirus in patients, even in those who are asymptomatic.

Three of the six trained canines go through hundreds of sweat samples per day, including those from bed-ridden patients who can't travel to get tested.

Researchers at the Chulalongkorn University said COVID-19 patients secrete a volatile organic compound through their perspiration, which is a scent that dogs can detect, even if they don't show obvious symptoms.

Thitiwat Sriprasart is the co-researcher of the project:

"They are very fast and specific with a success rate at over 90 percent, which is very high. Secondly, the canines are very fast at screening. They can tell us which sample is infected and which ones are not. At this pace, we are able to isolate those whom we suspect are infected from those who are virus-free. This will help to reduce the number of outbreaks."

Thailand is fighting its most severe outbreak yet, with cases quadrupling and reported deaths increasing seven-fold since the start of April.

Researchers are hopeful that these trained dogs can be deployed to airports or piers as they will be much faster and more precise in detecting the virus than temperature checks.