MIAMI – With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis raging around the globe, researchers in Finland are running trials of COVID-19 sniffer dogs at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL). The state-funded trial currently has four dogs working to detect infected passengers.

Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki is overseeing the trial. According to Hielm-Björkman, dogs can detect the virus in as little as 10 seconds. The dog then gives the result of the test with physical gestures or barking.

COVID-19 sniffer dog. Photo: Reuters

Testing Procedure

The test is available to arriving international passengers and is carried out in a few steps. First, passengers are told to swab their necks with a cloth and place it in a jar. Next, in a separate area, the jar is placed with other scents and inspected by the dog.

Lastly, if the dog alerts to the passenger being infected, the passenger will be asked to take a free PCR test to confirm the existence of COVID-19.

The University of Helsinki has found that the dogs can detect the virus with almost 100% accuracy. Furthermore, dogs need less COVID-19 molecules to detect the virus.

Photo:Toronto Star

Preparing for Winter Season

According to the public authorities in Vantaa, the four-month program will cost around €300,000. In the study, 16 dogs are being trained by the Finnish organization Wise Nose.

The four current dogs work in shifts of two. It will be interesting to see the result of the trial, which showcases one of the many ways airports are dealing with the fallout of the pandemic as the winter flying season is approaching.

Featured image: Sky News