NHS staff sign up for Milton Keynes-based charity's COVID sniffer dog trials

Eleven hospitals across the UK have signed up for the trials to help Milton Keynes-based charity Medical Detection Dogs with their research.

The charity trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease, and staff are currently investigating whether the Bio Detection Dogs can be trained to detect COVID-19.  

This trial is being led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Durham University and Medical Detection Dogs. 

Scientists are hoping that 3,500 staff will be able to take part in the trial and provide "odour samples", even if they are asymptomatic. 

Volunteers will provide samples of their breath and body odour by wearing a mask for three hours, and by wearing socks and a t-shirt for 12 hours, according to the BBC.

92 staff members at Kettering General Hospital have registered to take part so far. Joanne Walsh, lead nurse for research at the hospital, said: "Our contribution involves recruiting staff volunteers from colleagues who are about to have a Covid-19 swab test.

"We send the samples, along with whether the person has tested positive or negative for Covid-19, to the team who are doing the research with the dogs in Milton Keynes.

"This can then be compared with the actual test results on the person to see if the dog was right."

If successful, this could be used as a new non-invasive way to diagnose coronavirus. 

Medical Detection Dogs say that should the trials be successful, the dogs could be deployed to airports in the UK within six months to assist with the rapid screening on people travelling from abroad – with the potential of screening of up to 250 people per hour. 

In other news, earlier this week it was announced that Medical Detection Dogs received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Milton Keynes.

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