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Sniffer Dogs Might Be Able To Detect Coronavirus, New Initiative Hopes

Researchers are launching a trial to see whether dogs can smell whether humans have COVID-19 before they show symptoms.

Britain's health department said on Saturday that disease control experts are looking into whether dogs which have been trained to sniff out certain cancers and malaria can potentially be used as a "non-invasive, early warning measure" to identify the coronavirus.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University are collaborating with the charity Medical Detection Dogs.

The trial is getting 500,000 pounds ($A943,430) of UK government funding.

Could dogs be able to sniff out coronavrus? Image: AAP

Six dogs, including Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, have started basic training for the trial. In the initial phase, researchers plan to gather odour samples from both people infected with the virus and those who aren't.

The health department says the dogs will then undergo thorough training using the samples and will only be deployed if backed by strong scientific evidence.