Dogs can detect COVID-19 with up to 97% accuracy, as opposed to a rapid antigen test which is typically around 80% accurate, according to a study published in Plos One.

Setting up the study: Without knowing the COVID-19 status, dogs and their handlers were exposed to different nasal and mouth swabs.

  • The study surveyed 335 adults. Of those adults, about one-third of the participants had COVID-19, NBC New York reported.

Can dogs detect COVID-19? In symptomatic individuals, the dogs detected COVID-19 with 97% accuracy, and 94% in asymptomatic individuals, the study reported.

  • In some cases, the dogs were even up to 100% accurate in detecting a positive case, and 91% accurate in identifying a negative case, according to NBC New York.
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  • The dogs could also detect COVID-19 from sweat samples, Science News reported.

How does it work? Dogs are able to detect COVID-19 because of an organ in their nose, called the Jacobson’s organ. This helps them identify smells that are undetectable to humans, according to NBC News.

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The bigger picture: “These findings are evidence that dogs could be effective for mass screening efforts at places such as airports or concerts and may provide friendly alternatives for testing people who balk at nasal swabs,” said Dominique Grandjean from the National School of Veterinary Medicine of Alfort, per Science News.

  • Science News stated that these findings are helpful because dogs can detect COVID-19 immediately, while a PCR test can take up to multiple days to produce results.
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