A pilot study on the use of dogs, to diagnose the dreadful Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging many countries, may start in Nigeria in July.
The pilot training programme utilising scent detection by dogs to discriminate between samples from COVID-19 positive and negative patients would have 36 dogs as pioneer participants in the novel research initiative of a firm ScentLogix and the University of Security, Ondo State.
The trainee-dogs are expected to receive ScentLogix samples of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the next few weeks as a training aid since Coronavirus has a unique odour that could easily be detected by dogs.
Scent detection dogs can accurately detect low concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are present in human blood, saliva, urine or breath, the team leader in Nigeria, Prof. David Adebimpe, said.
Also, Vice President of the firm in Africa and Asia, Abayomi Odunowo, who broke the news yesterday to reporters in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said the preliminary screening of live humans by trained dogs in Nigeria could begin as early as July.
According to him, the dogs being trained to detect the pandemic could screen 750 people within an hour.
An expert in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Dr Adetona Sikiru, said there was a possibility of using dogs to detect coronavirus.
He, however, noted that the trials conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom were inconclusive.
The UK Government awarded a specialist team of researchers almost €500,000 to find out if specially trained bio-detection dogs could be used as a new rapid testing measure for COVID-19.
The programme is a partnership between the government, the Medical Detection Dogs charity and universities like London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
If the trial gathers sufficient evidence, the first set of dogs could be deployed to key points of entry into the UK within six months to assist with the rapid screening of people travelling from abroad.