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Finland: Coronavirus-sniffing dogs deployed at Helsinki airport. Researchers: They are close to 100% accuracy

University of Helsinki researchers are carrying out an experiment at Helsinki’s airport using dogs to detect coronavirus on arriving passengers.

The dogs have been trained to detect the virus by scent on arriving passengers at Helsinki’s airport.

The experiment has already produced encouraging results in the laboratory.

In the past dogs have been used to detect diseases such as cancer. Now by smelling the samples of sweat from travellers, a dog can detect the presence of the coronavirus, using a much smaller molecular sample than those used in laboratory tests.

Helsinki’s airport using dogs to detect coronavirus
Helsinki’s airport using dogs to detect coronavirus.

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A French study has confirmed the effectiveness of this approach.

“It’s a very promising method. Dogs are very good at sniffing,” Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a University of Helsinki professor of equine and small animal medicine, told ET. “If it works, it will be a good (coronavirus) screening method at any other places.”

Anette Kare of Finland’s Smell Detection Association said dogs do the same the same thing as PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests with nearly one hundred percent accuracy. She pointed out that dogs can detect the presence of coronavirus even five days before the symptoms appear.

“Dogs need to rest from time to time. If the scent is easy, it doesn’t wear out the dog too much. But if there are lots of new scents around, dogs do get tired easier,” Anette Kare told ET.

Helsinki’s airport using dogs to detect coronavirus

Similar experiments are also underway in several countries including Australia, France, Germany and Great Britain.