UAE study reveals high accuracy of trained dogs in Covid-19 detection

Abu Dhabi - The final results showed a 98 per cent correlation between the PCR test results and the detections by the dogs.

By Wam

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Published: Mon 14 Dec 2020, 8:19 AM

The Federal Customs Authority (FCA) and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) have successfully undertaken a world-first study into deploying trained dogs for the detection of Covid-19.

The first scientific study to detect the presence of the coronavirus through the use of customs K9 sniffer dogs was conducted by a joint task force consisting of experts, researchers and specialists representing HCT and the K9 Unit of the FCA.

The three-phase study revealed the high rate of accuracy of dogs from the Customs’ K9 Unit in detecting coronavirus-infected patients, from a sample of 1,000 participants at Covid-19 screening centres within two seconds. The final results showed a 98 per cent correlation between the PCR test results and the detections by the dogs.

Ali Saeed Mattar Al Nayadi, Commissioner of Customs and Chairman of the FCA, said the success of the study reflects the authority’s keenness to play an effective role in the protection of society and the enhancement of security and stability.

He added the study also highlighted the authority’s aim to implement the UAE leadership’s directives in confronting the effects and implications during the Covid-19 pandemic, in line with the UAE Vision 2021 and UAE Centennial 2071, the aim of which is to establish a safe and prosperous society on the medical, social and economic fronts. He stressed that this achievement will pave the way for future use of K9 sniffer dogs in addressing the risks and effects of natural and health disasters; and in detecting viruses, narcotics and hazardous materials.

He pointed out that using K9 sniffer dogs to detect the Coronavirus will save effort and time and reduce the pressure for frontline heroes by 98 per cent in addition to ensuring budget cost-effectiveness by saving millions of dirhams that can otherwise be used in vital sectors, such as infrastructure, healthcare, education, and security.

Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO, congratulated the team of experts, researchers and specialists.

He said the first phase of the research included training of the sniffer dogs for high-speed sampling from the armpits of presumed cases. The training was performed on over 500 samples based on international practices. During the second phase, or K9 test, samples were sniffed out by the dogs without coming in contact with the people, followed by a PCR test on the same participants. The third phase included comparison of results between the dogs’ sniffing within two seconds and the PCR results performed in medical laboratories.

Dr Al Shamsi added that the statistical analysis of the study findings proved the high accuracy of Customs K9 sniffer dogs in diagnosing and detecting Covid-19 patients within two seconds. "More than 98 per cent of the samples that did not contain the virus were disqualified, which meant that PCR tests were performed for only 2 per cent of the screening centre visitors. This key scientific achievement will save efforts and funds and reduce the pressure of the medical cader and screening ceneer visitors," he said.

The study will be proposed for publication in a renowned international peer-reviewed scientific periodical.


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