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Volunteers Needed: Using dogs to detect COVID-19

Volunteers Needed: Using dogs to detect COVID-19

The ARCTEC team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University are working on a study to train dogs to identify unique odours associated with coronavirus infection.

This study is built on the scientifically proven ability of dogs to act as great biosensors, capable of detecting odours associated with human health, as well as drugs, explosives and food.

For example, it has been scientifically proven that dogs can sense small changes in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be produced by the human body when it is diseased. Dogs have already been trained to diagnose cancer in samples from patients, to alert people with diabetes that their blood sugar is low and detect many other diseases.

How you can get involved

The ARCTEC team are seeking volunteers from the public who have tested positive for coronavirus to provide their body and breath odour by wearing a face mask for three hours, and a t-shirt and socks for 12 hours. It’s very simple and can be done at home.

The dogs have begun training with samples that have already collected (via NHS sites and testing centres), but 325 positive samples are needed in total and they are looking for help from the general public.

If someone tests positive, they can call 0207 927 2777 to volunteer to find out how they can provide their odour sample.

ARTEC send a mask, socks and t-shirt in the post, and then the volunteer just needs to return the used clothing items in a Freepost package provided. This video explains the process in more detail.

Find out more here: 

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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