Pandemic pooches are performing well in a Finnish pilot project designed to sniff out coronavirus in airline passengers, according to officials behind the initiative.
Last month, Finland unleashed specially trained dogs to sniff out coronavirus at the Helsinki Airport and have since assessed 2,200 passengers and detected the virus in 13 travellers.
That’s about 0.6 per cent of those whose samples were sniffed.
Officials are calling the initiative both “effective and popular.”
“Passengers have been willing to queue for long periods of time to get to the corona dog test,” the City of Vantaa, which hired dogs announced last week. “A dog is able to detect a coronavirus in a person earlier and more reliably than laboratory tests.”
The research will continue through the end of the year, but initial results show the dogs’ ability to pinpoint the virus with close to 100 per cent accuracy, up to five days earlier than a nasal PCR test.
Lentoaseman koronakoirat valloittivat matkustajat ja median ympäri maailman. 🐕 ✈️ Miellyttävää testitapaa kiitellään ja koiria fanitetaan, mutta toiminnan jatkosta ei ole tietoa. #vantaa #helsinkivantaa #covid19dogs #detectiondog #koronakoira #wisenosehttps://t.co/xepcAUnj9J— Vantaan kaupunki (@VantaanKaupunki) October 28, 2020
Passengers have given the project positive reviews, lining up to have their skin swabbed to collect a sample for the dogs to check.
As an added bonus, project manager Soile Turunen says that the dogs have enjoyed their work as well.
Anna Hielm-Björkman, with the school of veterinary medicine at the University of Helsinki, said while more research needs to be done, coronavirus sniffer dogs could be used in schools, nursing homes, museums, concerts and sporting events.
The dogs have been trained by the experts with Wise Nose, which shared a video of how the dogs work smelling samples.
23.9-23.10 välisenä aikana koirat ovat haistelleet lentokentällä huikeat 2203 näytettä 🤩 🇫🇮 🐺 Videoissa näette miten…Posted by Wise Nose – Suomen hajuerottelu ry on Sunday, November 1, 2020
The airport working dogs — ET, Valo, Kössi and Miina — have also been named Special Hero Dogs by The Finnish Kennel Club for contributing to saving one or more lives.
“These four rewarding dogs are hero dogs in their own class. With their actions they have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people around the world,” Harri Lehkonen, chairman of the kennel club explained.
Photos: City of Vantaa