An airport in Finland is using sniffer dogs to try and detect whether people have the coronavirus.
Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport is running a trial that lets people volunteer to be tested for the virus by the dogs, which researchers say could result in dogs being used as a faster and cheaper way to test than using nasal swabs.
Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, the University of Helsinki professor running the trial, said the dogs are “very good” at detecting the virus.
After they collect their luggage, passengers who volunteer to be tested by the dog wipe their skin with a wipe and drop it into a container, meaning people who are afraid of or allergic to dogs can still participate.
The dog then sniffs the sample and reacts if it detects the virus —typically by yelping, pawing, or lying down, The Guardian reported.
And the passenger is then asked to take a free test with a nasal swab to verify the dog’s reaction.
If a passenger tests positive they are directed to the Helsinki University Hospital’s health information station for further instructions.
Two coronavirus sniffer dogs, named Valo and E.T., stand with their handlers at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland.
ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images
The university said that its preliminary tests show that “trained scent detection dogs seem to be quick in recognizing coronavirus from samples and might even be more sensitive than many of the tests that are now on the market.”