CU in the News

On the Covid Front Lines, When Not Getting Belly Rubs

In Thailand and around the world, dogs are being trained to sniff out the coronavirus in people. So far, the results have been impressive.

BANGKOK — Bobby was a good boy. So was Bravo.

Angel was a good girl, and when she sat, furry hindquarters sliding a little on the tile floor, she raised a paw for emphasis, as if to say, It’s this cotton ball that my keen nose has identified, the one that smells like Covid-19.

The three Labradors, operating out of a university clinic in Bangkok, are part of a global corps of dogs being trained to sniff out Covid-19 in people. Preliminary studies, conducted in multiple countries, suggest that their detection rate may surpass that of the rapid antigen testing often used in airports and other public places.

“For dogs, the smell is obvious, just like grilled meat for us,” said Dr. Kaywalee Chatdarong, deputy dean of research and innovation for the faculty of veterinary science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

The hope is that dogs can be deployed in crowded public spaces, like stadiums or transportation hubs, to identify people carrying the virus. Their skills are being developed in Thailand, the United States, France, Britain, Chile, Australia, Belgium and Germany, among other countries. They have patrolled airports in Finland, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, and private companies have used them at American sporting events.

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Chula produces able graduates who become quality citizens for society.

Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn President of Chulalongkorn University