Coronavirus-sniffing dogs at work.
Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have started work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that has reportedly remarkable success rates.
The four canines, trained by Finland’s Smell Detection Association, take shift turns with two working while the other two rest.
Passengers suspected of carrying the virus are instructed to take a swab of their skin with a test wipe which is then handed over to one of the dogs to sniff.
The top dog, an eight-year-old greyhound mix, can take seconds to deliver a positive result by scratching a paw, laying down or barking.
“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 places,” Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a University of Helsinki professor of equine and small animal medicine, said.
“They are very good (at it). We come close to 100-percent sensitivity,”
Scientists are not yet sure what exactly it is that the dogs sniff when they detect the virus.
A scientific study published in June concluded that people carrying Covid-19 may have a different sweat odour to those that do not have the virus. It could be this that the dogs are detecting.
Researchers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United Arab Emirates are reportedly also working on similar projects.