University of Bedfordshire court member Geoff Lambert explains how medical detection dogs can help join the fight against Covid-19.
Geoff and his pooch work with the charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD). The charity has recently partnered with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) on a trial to see if dogs can sniff out COVID-19 patients.
Geoff Lambert, who sits on the University’s court, works with MDD with his ambassador dog Buddy.
Speaking of the recent research on how these dogs could help in the fight against the current coronavirus, he said: “What we do know is that every disease has a smell, and therefore Covid-19 will have a smell. What we have to work out is how we can safely capture it and use it to train a dog to understand what that smell is.
“If you can go through the identification process and train the dog, you could use the dog as a way of identifying the illness very, very early on. The theory is that you could do it before there are any signs of the illness.”
Members of the charity, along with Durham University and LSHTM, are currently working to see if this is possible.
Geoff continues: “This needs to be done quickly, but you have to balance risk with speed. But we’re hoping we will be able to add something to support the effort.
“A dogs nose is much better than ours. A human can smell something diluted 25,000:1 and a dog can smell 6,000,000,000:1. You could smell a teaspoon full of sugar in a cup of tea and a dog will smell the same amount of sugar in an Olympic sized swimming pool.”
Medical Detection Dogs CEO and Co-Founder, Claire Guest, said: “In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.
“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic and tell us whether they need to be tested. This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.”
He explained: “We have been working with MDD for some time to help with materials they use for initial dog training and work related to prostate cancer detection. The idea being that if we can work out what the dogs are sniffing then we can potentially develop more conventional tests that are better than existing cancer tests.
“Looking to the future, dogs trained to detect Covid-19 could potentially help with screening at airports or similar places.”
Dr Maytum has also been working in the fight against coronavirus. He has been working with Life Science Group, a local company, helping them to develop materials to be used in conventional swab testing.
Further details of Life Science Group can be found at their website: http://lifesciencegroup.co.uk/
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