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Durham University

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Bio-detection dogs meet Matt Hancock and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall

(28 October 2020)

Prof James Logan (LSHTM), Matt Hancock and Dr Claire Guest, CEO of Medical Detection Dogs

Dogs trained to sniff out Covid-19 received a VIP visit for a training demonstration at Paddington Station in Central London.

The Duchess of Cornwall and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, saw an example of how these dogs could be used to detect people infected with the virus, in a busy public space.

They watched as the dogs and their trainers walked down a line of people and then into a group. The dogs sat down to indicate to their trainers that they had detected an odour relating to Covid-19.

This is Phase 2 of a trial to determine whether these dogs can accurately detect Covid-19 from odour samples provided by the public and NHS staff.

Testing their skills

The event was a great opportunity for the dogs to test their skills in the middle of a busy London station. If this initial phase of the trial is successful, the dogs will begin training in more public spaces to get them used to working in distracting surroundings.

The project is a collaboration between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University. The team has previously worked together to successfully prove that dogs can be trained to sniff out the scent of malaria.

How to take part

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 research team on 0207 927 2777 when you will be checked for eligibility, or send an email to coviddogs@lshtm.ac.uk. If accepted to participate in this trial, you will be sent a sample collection pack.

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