Fantasy, a Belgian shepherd dog working for the Austrian military has wowed her handlers with her accurate and fast identification of coronavirus samples taken from patients with the disease.
Working in absolute harmony with her handler the dog has been correctly identifying COVID-19 samples provided by patients who were asked to breathe into a container for five minutes. The scent was then presented to the dog.
Wolf Kafka of the Max-Planck Institute said this was a defining moment for Austria in the international fight against the pandemic.
The Austrian military has no previous experience with COVID-19 smell detection and was commissioned by the government to test the accuracy of sniffer dogs.
“When we got the first active sample of COVID-19 directly from the ward at the military hospital, and presented it to the dog a few minutes later, the dog picked it out immediately even though the dog had never smelled an active sample before and had only been trained using laboratory samples. I can answer the question of the experiment the government asked us to carry out: yes, the nose of a dog is able to detect and indicate COVID-19 contagious materials,” Austrian army Colonel Otto Koppitsch said.
The dog is repeatedly given a variety of samples and is trained to sit or lie when it smells the disease.
Elsewhere, dogs have been trained to smell the sweat of COVID-19 patients and distinguish them from non-infected people. Researchers in France said they found dogs could identify infected individuals with 85% to 100% accuracy and rule out infection with 92% to 99% accuracy.