Volunteers needed for COVID-19 detection dog trial

Aug 6, 2020

Bio Detection Dog Storm

Our COVID-19 detection dogs project team is now asking people in the for help with the trial.

The trial will determine whether our Bio Detection Dogs could be used as a new rapid, non-invasive diagnostic tool for the virus.

Before the dogs can be put through their paces, the research team need samples for our four-legged team to carry out their work, and that’s where members of the public come in. 

We are aiming to recruit thousands of people who have mild COVID-19 symptoms and are due to have a swab test, or have had a swab test conducted in the previous 24 hours.

The volunteers will provide samples of breath and body odour by wearing a mask for three hours, and nylon socks and a t-shirt for twelve hours.

The team needs to collect around 325 positive and 675 negative samples – in order to confidently determine if our dogs can accurately detect the disease.

Once the samples have been collected, they will be taken to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine for analysis to identify compounds in odour that show someone is infected with COVID-19.

AsherThe samples will then be sent to our training centre in Milton Keynes where a group of Bio Detection Dogs that have been doing pre-training will transfer their skills to detecting the odour the virus from the samples.

Samples from volunteer NHS staff and members of their households who are due to be tested for COVID-19, are also being collected.

Claire Guest, CEO and Co-Founder of Medical Detection Dogs, said: “It is vital that we train our dogs to detect the odour of COVID-19 as soon as possible so we can help ensure people move about freely and safely. The latest travel disruptions further highlight the difference the dogs could make.  Public support is essential in making this possible. Anyone who assists us by providing samples will be playing a part in creating a fast, effective and non-invasive diagnosis for the virus and safer spaces for us all.” 

Should the trial be successful, these dogs could be deployed to airports in the UK within six months to assist with the rapid screening on people travelling from abroad – with the potential of screening of up to 250 people per hour. 

More information about volunteering for the study can be found at: https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/centres-projects-groups/using-dogs-to-detect-covid-19#volunteer-for-the-study  

If you are interested in volunteering, have mild COVID-19 symptoms and are due to take a swab test for the virus (or have in the last 24 hours), please call the ARCTEC team at LSHTM on 0207 927 2777 when you will be checked for eligibility, or send an email to [email protected]. If accepted to participate in this trial, you will be sent a sample collection pack. 

This project is a collaboration between Medical Detection Dogs, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University. The first phase of the trial is funded by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). 


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