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Otto is training to sniff out COVID-19 infections and help bring back culture, Source: Sebastian Meller via TiHo website

Dogs will help detect COVID-19 in concert goers in Hannover

Dogs will help detect COVID-19 in concert goers in Hannover

In times of great turmoil, we can always turn to man’s best friend

Today, the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover (TiHo) announced the public trial of a new type of Covid test – the dog test. Researchers have teamed up with event organisers to use the newly trained dogs to sniff out COVID-19 infected people at concerts and big events. According to the researchers, if proven practical and effective, the new technique has the potential to greatly ease the cultural sector.

Man’s best friend – coming to the rescue again

In the summer of 2020, a research team in TiHo published a study about the use of dogs to detect Covid infections. The dogs that took part in the trial phase were from the Bundeswehr (the German Army) and they had substantial initial training in odour detection.

The study showed that the dogs were able to make a correct identification in 90% of the cases, from a sample size of 5,000 different individuals. Furthermore, according to the team, it did not matter for the dogs what bodily fluid the sample was from and different types of samples had no effect on the success rate.

Going back to culture

The first real-world trial of the dogs will happen this Sunday in an open-air concert with 500 people. The band that will play is called Fury in the Slaughterhouse. Everyone who is attending the concert will still have to present a negative test, however, during the admission process, the research team will hand out cotton pads to collect sweat samples. Then, the team will hand the pads to the dogs to verify the results.

During the presentation, TiHo professor Holger Volk, who worked on the project, was quoted in a press release, expressing his confidence in the very high hit rate of the dogs in a controlled environment. Furthermore, Lower Saxony's Minister of Science Björn Thümler said that the ultimate goal is to see whether dogs are a viable option instead of the heavy Covid testing infrastructure, currently in use.

Minister Björn Thümler continued: “It's time to dare a little more normalcy. For artists, organizers and participants in the four concerts, this may mean more security and a step out of the pandemic. Those who take part in the study enjoy free entry."

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