Three of six trained labrador retrievers have debuted as Thailand’s coronavirus sniffer machines at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, going through hundreds of sweat samples per day as they join the fight to detect infected asymtomatic patients amid a third wave of outbreak.
The sweat samples, including those from bed-ridden patients who are not able to travel to get swab tests and local medical volunteers, were collected and brought in for them by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry
“The distinctive scent is what would appear after there is an infection. Different kind of viruses will produce different kind of scent, therefore they contain different smell,” Pattama Torvorapanit, a co-researcher of the coronavirus sniffer dog project, told a conference on Friday (May 21).
“The canines are very sensitive towards scent excreted from human body and they have better sense by hundreds of million of times better than us humans without even having to come into close contact with the virus,” she explains as to why the canines were not needed to directly sniff people.
The dogs can detect a volatile organic compound secreted in the sweat of COVID-19 sufferers, even in the absence of disease symptoms, Thai researchers said.
With a success of nearly 95% rate, the canines have gone through thousands of samples since early May, said project leader Kaywalee Chatdarong.
Meanwhile, Thailand has detected its first 15 domestically transmitted cases of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant first found in India, authorities said on Friday, a discovery that could complicate efforts to address its most deadly outbreak so far.
The 15 cases included 12 construction workers at their camp in northern Bangkok, where about 1,100 of the 1,667 workers there tested positive for COVID-19.