The results of the first phase of our study demonstrating bio-detection dogs can identify COVID-19 with up to 94% accuracy have been published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.
The study was led by Arctech Innovation in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Medical Detection Dogs charity and Durham University. It was part-funded by the UK’s Department of Health & Social Care.
Over 3,750 people across the UK, including NHS staff, donated odour samples for this study, by wearing socks, face masks and shirts which were processed by our clinical research team at Arctech Innovation. These samples were then used for training and testing the dogs.
It showed that COVID-19 infection has a distinct smell, which specially trained dogs can rapidly, non-invasively detect with up to 94.3% sensitivity and up to 92% specificity. The dogs were able to detect odour from individuals who were asymptomatic, as well as those with two different strains, and with both high and low viral loads.
This is the most complete study of its kind to date, combining data collected during the first phase of the dog trial, odour analysis and modelling.
Our COVID-19 dogs are now training and being tested in real-life settings such as testing centres, workplaces and events and conferences as part of their final stage of validation.
In this final phase of the trial, the dogs will indicate if they smell its odour on a consented individual in a real-world environment. The individual will then take a PCR test to confirm that the dog has correctly indicated. It’s fast, reliable, non-invasive and will enable earlier self-isolation to prevent onward transmission.