The Duchess of Cornwall visited Medical Detection Dogs in Milton Keynes today to meet the dogs who are being trained to detect coronavirus.
The charity trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease, with the aim of improving diagnosis and is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer.
Medical Detection Dogs, based in Great Horwood, is also currently investigating whether Bio Detection Dogs can be trained to detect COVID-19.
And today, Camilla, the charity's Patron, visited the pups to see them in action during their training.
The Duchess said: “From the minute I visited you, I just knew that there was something very special about these dogs and as we’ve seen today with Covid, how quickly they’re learning to sniff the scent.
“It will be a game changing moment for this country and the world, and luckily it’s Britain that is leading the way.
“But we do need help, we do need more positive samples.
“If we can appeal to all hospitals to please, please give the Medical Detection Dogs these samples because they are going to help to save thousands of lives, and I think that it is so important.
“Also, we need more dogs, we need more handlers, we need more foster homes…
“This is a game changing moment and I really do urge everybody, if they can, to please help us.”
Camilla was shown a demonstration in an indoor training room where one dog, a cocker spaniel called Asher, sniffed out the COVID sample out of four others on a stand. Asher had only been trained on coronavirus for two days.
The Duchess said this was an "exciting moment" and was "incredible" that the dog could do it in such a short time.
Medical Detection Dogs already sniff samples to find the odour of cancer, malaria, Parkinson’s and other diseases.
And if the current trials are successful, the dogs could soon be rolled out to airports to detect if people have the virus - even if they're asymptomatic.