GenZ News for Kids: A Free-Thinking Education Starts Here ...

Can a Dog Sniff You for COVID?

Canny canines may eliminate the need for flawed PCR testing.

Level: Liberty Explorers - Elementary School Liberty Discoverers - Middle School Liberty Patriots - High School
If you notice a yellow highlight on the page, hover over it for the definition!

Anyone who has had an unfamiliar dog nose at them may shudder at the prospect – but trained canines may be the next big thing in COVID testing. PCR tests, which is short for “polymerase chain reaction” tests, were used to detect COVID-19, but they were known to be ineffective. The New York Times reported they could show as little as 10% efficacy, yielding millions and millions of false positives worldwide. Well-trained dogs have a much better track record.

Natural Gifts

The Greek myth of Prometheus follows a proto-god’s efforts to advocate on behalf of humanity. His challenge? When creatures were molded and created – the animals got all the gifts. They have fur for warmth, four legs for speed, wings for flight, and super senses, including sight, hearing, and smell, leaving puny, naked humans with none of these advantages. But Prometheus’ plan to steal fire from the Gods on behalf of humans didn’t exactly pan out for him. He was chained to a rock for all of eternity so a vulture could rip his liver out daily for a protein-rich midday snack. But the myth still resonates. Although blessed with out-sized brains, humans don’t have many of the other natural gifts that animals do.

Take dogs, for example. We have roughly five million scent receptors, while dogs have approximately 300 million of them, giving them a distinct advantage in the smelling and sniffing department. Drug sniffing dogs are used to find the lawless. Cadaver sniffing dogs can be trained to detect the deceased. Using a piece of clothing worn by a missing person can help a dog locate people gone missing or abducted. Dogs have also been taught to detect maladies, including cancer, diabetes, and malaria. And now – for the first time – dogs are being trained to detect a viral disease in human beings.

Pooches Over PCR

The World Health Organization announced in January 2021 that the false-positives from PCR tests were too high during 2020. Now that this has been adjusted for, there has been a worldwide decline in recorded infection rates. The WHO is now pivoting to COVID-sniffing dogs and has coordinated an international task force to investigate their viability for widespread use.

Dogs can be trained to detect COVID for a fraction of the cost of PCR tests and can be ready to report for duty in just a few short weeks – and even faster if the dogs are already trained to detect bombs or explosives. The dogs can learn to detect COVID with somewhere between 82% to 99% sensitivity and between 84% to 99% specificity. This is a considerable improvement over the PCR tests, which could be as high as 90% inefficacious.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) demonstrated an average detection rate of 94% – which is impressive by any standard. Already, professional entities as diverse as the NBA, the Beirut airport, and construction firms in London are using the clever canines to lower the costs, streamline the implementation, and improve the efficacy of COVID testing.

Thanks to man’s best friend, we may now have a far more reliable way to test for the SARS CoV2 virus that paralyzed planet Earth for over a year.

Pennel bird is a writer, educator, musician, husband, and father who currently lives in Glendale, CA. He is a Political Contributor for He likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Related Posts