Coronavirus-sniffing dogs: Finland is revolutionizing the way airports detect infections with coronavirus-sniffing dogs that detect COVID-19 infections using travelers’ sweat
Who needs COVID-19 antibody testing when you can just use coronavirus-sniffing dogs. This week, Finland deployed coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport to detect passengers infected with coronavirus using travelers’ sweat.
The pilot program, which began on Wednesday with ten coronavirus-sniffing canines, is part of a four-month trial of an alternative testing method that could become a cost-friendly and quick way to identify infected travelers. The dogs also enable the airport to speed up the process of identifying those infected with COVID-19.
Currently, passengers’ participation in the pilot program is voluntary. Passengers, who agree to participate in the voluntary program, will be asked by airport authorities to wipe their skin to collect sweat placed in a jar and given to the dogs to sniff out for the virus. At no point will dogs directly interact with travelers. The dogs also run on shifts. Each shift will include four dogs that will sniff out infections.
Finland is not the only countries studying the use of canines as coronavirus detectors, several countries, including Australia, France, Germany, and the United States are also working on similar trials. So far, the Finnish trial is among the largest.
Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a University of Helsinki professor of equine and small animal medicine, said, “It’s a very promising method. Dogs are very good at sniffing. If it works, it will be a good (coronavirus) screening method at any other place.”
Helsinki Airport director Ulla Lettijeff said the pilot program is revolutionizing the way the airport detects infections. “As far as we know, no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19,” Lettijeff said.
In a tweet, Helsinki Airport said:
“Covid-19 dogs started their work today at the Helsinki Airport at arrival hall 2B. Dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from the test wipes given by the test person. Service is voluntary and primarily targeted for passengers arriving from abroad,” the post from Helsinki Aoport’s Twitter account reads.
Covid-19 dogs started their work today at the Helsinki Airport at arrival hall 2B. Dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from the test wipes given by the testperson. Service is voluntary and primarily targeted for passengers arriving from abroad. pic.twitter.com/ieMLm0KuZY
— Helsinki Airport (@HelsinkiAirport) September 22, 2020