Man’s best friend is being deployed to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The British animal charity Medical Detection Dogs is working with two universities to see if the canines can be trained to sniff out coronavirus, reported Yahoo News.
The organization has had past success training dogs to detect diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's and bacterial infections by sniffing samples taken from individuals with those illnesses.
They believe the four-legged friends will be successful in identifying if someone has coronavirus in a safe and non-invasive way.
Training is set to begin in six weeks.
“In principle, we're sure that dogs could detect COVID-19," said Claire Guest, founder of Medical Detection Dogs. "We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odor of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.”
With testing being hard to come by in many places, the charity hopes the dogs could identify carriers of the virus even if they don’t have any symptoms.
Guest added: "The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and tell us whether they need to be tested. “
The dogs have previously been able to detect malaria with “extremely high accuracy” by picking up changes in odor caused by the virus. Officials are hopeful they will be able to do the same with COVID-19.
If the training is successful, the goal would be to deploy the dogs to airports to rapidly pinpoint anyone infected with the virus and help curtail any further community spread.
As of Friday, there have been over 596,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, with 100,000 of those in the United States, according to CNN.