British researchers are launching a trial to find out if trained dogs can identify COVID-19 patients. Earlier research proved that dogs can pick up odours that contain signatures of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and even smells signalling infection by influenza viruses.

For the trial, medical staff in London hospitals was told to collect odour samples from COVID-19 patients and healthy people. The idea for the study comes from research proving that tissues produce so-called unique volatile compounds (VOC) and that their concentration changes when someone catches an infection or otherwise becomes ill. Research has also established that the specific odours of volatile organic compounds are present in exhaled breath, urine, faeces, and sweat and dogs are able to reliably distinguish these scents from others.

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