Puppers which were trained to detect COVID-19 began sniffing passenger samples at Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport this week, authorities said in a pilot project running alongside more usual testing at the airport.
A team of 10 instructors and 15 dogs are being trained in Finland by volunteers who are sponsored by a private veterinary clinic. The team includes the famous dog Kossi who is a rescue dog from Spain. He was trained as a sniffer dog in Finland and has even worked before in detecting cancers.
Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, who is Adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki and specialised in clinical research for companion animals while in an interview said that in their research they have seen that dogs will find diseases in a patient’s body before they get any clinical symptoms. While referring to the dog’s ability to detect cases of the virus she added that the dogs are quite good at it and that they have come close to 100% sensitivity.
Although, the dog’s efficiency has not been proven through comparative scientific studies so passengers who volunteer to be tested and those suspected as carrying the virus are instructed to also take a swab to confirm it.
The canine test would include a passenger swiping their neck with gauze and places it in a can. This is then handed over to another room for a dog to sniff. The dog can immediately deliver the result.
This is also not the first time that something as such has been done. A few months ago authorities in the UAE also embarked on a similar venture of canine testing at Dubai International Airport. There they used the help of police dogs.
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