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If you were tested for COVID-19, would you prefer to have your lab results determined by a highly trained technician or a friendly dog?
Officials at Helsinki Airport in Finland are betting on it, Sky News reports.
The airport is participating in a trial that saw 10 sniffer dogs specially trained to detect passengers sick with coronavirus, some of whom may be asymptomatic.
Four COVID detection canines will be deployed every shift to screen passengers, who will also receive standard screening to ensure the dogs’ results are correct.
The puppies were trained by the odor detection agency Wise Nose, which works to “maintain and promote scent discrimination skills and organize a variety of training and performance opportunities.” Wise Nose claims dogs can detect coronavirus with almost 100% accuracy.
In addition to COVID, the agency also trains puppies to detect certain types of cancer, rats, bedbugs and dangerous molds via a method called ‘the odor of separation’, in which dogs learn to isolate and identify a specific scent. among other odors via odor samples placed in jars.
“The method is well suited to so-called laboratory dogs who do not need to look for the source of the odor,” the agency explains on its website.
Unlike medical scientists and lab workers, who require years of diagnostic and biology training, dogs can quickly be trained to identify the scent of coronavirus. One dog, an eight-year-old greyhound mix named Kossi, learned to detect the scent in just seven minutes.
The concept of using dogs to detect the virus emerged in July with the publication of a pilot study conducted by German military researchers, in which dogs were trained to identify COVID-19 with an accuracy of 94% .
“We believe it works because the metabolic processes in a sick patient’s body are completely altered,” Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, explained in a video posted on YouTube. “We believe that dogs are able to detect a specific scent.”