Study: Bloodhounds Can Detect Covid-19 One Week Before PCR Results

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – A study reveals specially trained bloodhounds can detect positive cases Covid-19 more than a week before the laboratory swab test. The test of the effectiveness of the Covid bloodhound was carried out on the players at the Belgian football club KV Oostende.

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Bloodhound has been launched as a virus screening tool for new arrivals at the airports of Belgium, Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

In a trial in Belgium, dogs were assigned to smell sweat from the underarms of players for signs of infection. Previous studies have found a ‘smell corona‘which appears from the first day of infection.

However, currently no diagnostic tool can identify it, except for the dog’s highly sensitive olfactory system.

The Flemish De Standaard newspaper reported that the dogs had an accuracy rate of 99.5 percent. This is similar to the sensitivity of a PCR lab swab taken from the nose, which is considered the gold standard of testing for the coronavirus.

The dogs are trained by experts at K9 Detection based in Ostend. K9 Detection CEO Johan Weckhuyzen said, “There are players who have tested negative through PCR, but turned out positive with us.” Eight or nine days later the results are positive.

“If they follow our results, infected players will be quarantined early and the virus will not spread further into the player group,” he said.

The football club says it is unlikely that bloodhounds will replace PCR testing completely, but they may play the role of mass screening tools to allow fans to return to the stands.

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“Having several thousand people take PCR tests before they are allowed to come to watch football is not a financially and practical impossibility,” the club said.

The trial supports findings from a recent study at a Finnish airport in which the dogs stopped people who appeared healthy.

The traveler who was stopped by the bloodhound was given a swab test to see if they had the virus but all came back negative. However, a few days later, the suspected negative person told researchers that they already had Covid-19 symptoms.

Three dogs involved in the study in Finland – named Miina, Kossi and Valo – had a nearly 100 percent success rate in detecting the Covid-19 virus, said lead researcher Anna Hielm-Bjorkman of the University of Helsinki. “They actually found a PCR negative that was going to be a positive PCR within a week,” ‘he told The Times.



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