Rwanda to deploy dogs in identification of COVID-19 patients

On 24 November 2020 at 06:49

Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) has signed an agreement with Germany embassy related to the project of deploying dogs to identify people infected with COVID-19.

The project dubbed ‘Scent Identification of COVID-19 using dogs’ has proved successful in developed countries including Germany. It will be helpful for the country to test a large number of people during this period when many businesses are reopening.

The agreements were signed on Monday witnessed by the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre RBC, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana and Germany amabassador, Dr Thomas Kurz.

The project is expected to be effected next month.

“Such a pleasure to sign today with the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre RBC, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana the project partnership ‘Scent Identification of COVID-19 using dogs’. Dogs in Germany proved capable of identifying people infected with COVID-19, the same will apply for Rwandan dogs soon,” tweeted Germany embassy in Rwanda following the ceremony.

Sniffer dogs are dogs that are trained to use their senses to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics. The sense most used by sniffer dogs is smell. The smell from the detection dogs are more enhanced than the average dog. They are trained to have this great sense of smell.

Sniffer dogs that normally look for explosives or drugs have been used previously to smell various cancers and hypoglycemia in diabetics. This medical application motivated veterinary scientists to research the potential ability of sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus. 

In July 2020, Researchers in Germany found that army sniffer dogs can discern between samples from coronavirus-infected and healthy patients.

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover found that trained sniffer dogs could be used to detect COVID-19 in human samples with a relatively high rate of accuracy.

Eight sniffer dogs from the German Bundeswehr were trained for only a weekto distinguish between the mucus and saliva of patients infected with coronavirus and non-infected individuals.

The dogs were then presented with positive and negative samples on a random basis by a machine.

The animals were able to positively detect SARS-CoV-2 infected secretions with an 83% success rate, and control secretions at a rate of 96%. The overall detection rate, combining both, was 94%.

In its conclusion based on more than 1,000 sniffed samples, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, the team said dogs could play a role in detecting infected individuals.

The method has been applied in many countries and proved that dogs can identify COVID-19 patients at low cost.

It is expected to boost Rwanda’s capacity to test COVID-19 and complements ongoing efforts to contain effects of the pandemic.

In a bid to minimise contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses in hospitals, the country has deployed three robots to carry out simple tasks like taking temperatures and monitoring patients.

Rwanda has so far conducted 609 367 COVID-19 tests of which 5726 were positive. A As of today, the country recorded has 482 active cases and 47 deaths.