For a while, dogs have been said to be able to sniff out the coronavirus. Yet, these dogs weren’t put on the job as quickly as hoped. It took months of research and training to teach these dogs how to behave, and finally, there’s some promising news amid these uncertain times.
COVID-sniffing dogs are now on the schedule at the Helsinki Airport in Finland. They’re the first dogs to sniff out the virus at airports in Europe, and the second dogs to do it in the world. Their accuracy is almost 100%!
Welcoming the New Working Dogs
The airport employed four dogs to sniff out COVID-19, on top of the dogs that already work there for sniffing out other hazards. When two of the dogs are working, the other two are on break. After all, working dogs deserve time off just as much as humans.
In the initial phases, testing is optional and mostly geared toward those traveling internationally. The test is simple and only takes a few minutes at most. Each person is asked to dab their neck with a wipe. Then, in a separate area, the wipe is placed in a jar for safety and set near jars with different scents.
If the dog smells the virus, they will alert someone by yelping, laying down, or pawing at the jar. The passenger will then need to go through an additional free test to confirm the dog’s results. So far, tests have shown that these dogs’ accuracy is close to 100%.
These dogs can also detect COVID-19 in a significantly smaller molecule pool than other tests. They only need about 100 molecules to detect the virus. Laboratory equipment usually needs closer to 18 million!
How Will This Affect the Future?
While the Helsinki Airport is only the second airport in the world to utilize these intelligent canines, other places may soon join in. Australia, France, and Germany are all working on similar systems. Training for this has gone on for a while, so it’s amazing to finally see it in action.
“It’s very promising,” said Anna Hielm-Björkman from the University of Helsinki. “If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places.”
It takes less than a minute for the dogs to sniff the sample. So, these dogs could be beneficial for any place where lots of people enter, such as hospitals and events.
This is only the beginning of using dogs to help slow the spread of COVID-19. If all goes well, these dogs could make a huge difference in this world, making testing for the virus much more accessible. Hopefully, we’ll see more information about these hard-working dogs in the future!