Covid-19 dogs will soon start working at Helsinki Airport. The dogs’ sensitive noses are expected to speed up the process of identifying those infected with covid-19. The city of Vantaa believes that the dogs will be an efficient method of ensuring health and safety at airports.
“The pilot that will be kicked off on Tuesday. We are among the pioneers. As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against covid-19. We are pleased with the city of Vantaa’s initiative. This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating covid-19,” says Airport Director Ulla Lettijeff from Finavia.
Detecting covid-19 is easy for dogs and results have been encouraging. According to preliminary tests conducted by a research group at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Helsinki, dogs are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty. They can also identify the virus days before the symptoms have even started. This is something that laboratory tests fail to do.
Dogs are also able to identify covid-19 from a much smaller sample than the PCR tests used by health care professionals. The difference is massive, as a dog only needs 10-100 molecules to identify the virus, whereas test equipment requires 18,000,000.
The Helsinki Airport covid-19 dogs are trained by Wise Nose. Nose Academy, the research group’s start-up company, is running the operation at the airport. In the future, customs dogs might replace the current operatives. Official covid-19 testing with trained dogs can only begin once a corresponding legislative amendment has been passed.