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DoH now studying the effectiveness of dogs vs COVID-19

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Sniffer dog Diamond takes part in a training to detect COVID-19 at San Oscar Romero International Airport, in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador on April 19, 2021. - El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele announced on Saturday that the country will have dogs trained to "detect people infected with covid-19". (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS / AFP)

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Sunday said that the DoH is currently studying the effectiveness of using dogs to sniff individuals who are positive of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In the Laging Handa briefing, Vergeire was reacting to reports that a number of establishments are now using dogs to trace COVID positive.

“The DoH is looking into all new innovations to determine if these will be beneficial to the public and the government,” Vergeire said.

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine worked to determine if dogs could also be used to find COVID-19 infections.

The proof-of-concept study, published in April in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that the virus has an odor that trained dogs can identify in urine and saliva.

“If we look into the RT-PCR test, it determines if an individual is positive or negative of COVID-19. If in case, dogs by just sniffing, they can detect virus, we need to prove this through evidence,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire maintained that the RT-PCR test being used in the country is already proven effective to detect the virus,

“We will seriously look into that possibility to determine if we can use dogs in our COVID response,” she added.

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Working Dog Center senior author Cynthia Otto said her group is eyeing to tap dogs to patrol places such airports and stadiums to sniff out the virus in public settings. (30)

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