London: A study involving sniffer dogs at Finland’s Helsinki airport to detect coronavirus in humans has shown promising results.
The study has also proven to be popular with travellers.
Three dogs sniffed out swabs from 2,200 passengers over a month’s time. The dogs — Kossi, ET and Miina — have found COVID-19 in 0.6 per cent of the passengers arriving at Helsinki airport. Initial results suggest accuracy levels are similar to nasal PCR tests.
“We have done 16,000-17,000 PCR tests at the airport and less than one percent are positive,” Timo Aronkyto, deputy mayor of Vantaa, told reporters. Statistically, it is similar to that found by the dogs, he added.
Preliminary results also suggest that dogs can detect the virus up to 5 days earlier than PCR tests.
The research is expected to yield a more definite result by the end of December.
The test at the arrival terminal involves wiping a swab on the skin, which is then put in front of a dog. The dog quickly passes over a negative sample but gets attracted to a positive one.
Helsinki University researchers are hoping to use this technique to roll out tests with dogs at tourist hotspots and large public gatherings.