- Researchers have found that an abnormal coronavirus diagnostic tool detects the virus days before standard PCR tests can identify it.
- Dogs trained to detect the particular scent of COVID-19 patients can early accurately identify infected people and they don’t make mistakes, according to new reports.
- The PCR test may return false negative results if done within the first days after exposure to the virus, but the researchers said the dogs did not experience the same problem.
The last time we covered the very nice guys ET, Kossi, Miina and Valo, we all knew that they all got jobs at Helsinki airport that were showing COVID-19 to the incoming passengers. They will work in a two-shift shift, and they will detect the coronavirus in them. ET, Kossi, Miina and Valo are four dogs trained to detect the distinctive odor of coronavirus patients.
Doctors from many different countries started training dogs to detect COVID-19 odors a few months ago and results are starting to show. Finnish researchers have found that these dogs have a huge advantage over conventional PCR tests, as they can detect disease well before traditional tests detect a virus.
A word report Timer explain that the researchers were confused at first by the dogs that sniffed COVID-19. The animals identified at the airport passengers were infected. When tested with a conventional PCR machine, the results were negative. At first it seemed that the dogs gave false positives.
A few days later, people with a negative test result started getting symptoms proving that the dogs were right. What the animals did was detect the virus even before a PCR test detects it.
Dr. Anna Hielm-Björkman said: “They are actually finding that PCR negative will become PCR positive in a week’s time,” adds Dr. Anna Hielm-Björkman, adding that other researchers at other Countries that used dogs for COVID-19 screening have also observed similar behavior. “It’s a problem when you have a much better test than the gold standard because you can’t validate it in any normal way.”
“PCRs are about 70%,” said the researcher of false negative results. “Good dogs never go below 100%.”
If the COVID-19 test is done too soon after exposure to the virus, the result is more likely to be negative. It takes a few days for the virus to start multiplying before a positive test can return. Patients are actually infected a few days before symptoms begin, when they can have a positive result for the virus. If infected, the patient will release virus particles by talking, coughing or sneezing. Similar particles will end up on the nose swab.
An earlier report explained that the dogs did not actually come into contact with passengers for safety reasons. They are given a towel that passengers use on their skin. The wipes are placed in a container, as shown in the picture above, next to the other three samples. The dog will then indicate a positive sample by “squealing, clapping or lying down”.
Having your dog capture a patient for COVID-19 before PCR is a great tool for screening purposes. These animals can be used in crowded places such as airports to identify potential asymptomatic carriers quickly. The problem with this resource is that it cannot scale correctly. Dogs need training to detect odors and they need to be protected. There have been cases of dogs getting COVID-19 from their owners.
However, research shows a great point that COVID-19 can be diagnosed earlier than current PCR tests. It’s not clear how PCR tests can be improved to provide faster results.