Helsinki airport: Using dogs to “smell” the coronavirus

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dogs can smell the coronavirus

Finland recently announced that Helsinki Airport has started all these campaigns. It was announced at Helsinki Airport that the world will start using dogs as part of its COVID-19 case detection program.

As researchers from the University of Helsinki said, the use of dogs can not only lead to faster results but also reduce costs and increase the overall effectiveness of the coronavirus detection process. dogs can smell the coronavirus

With the cooperation of Finavia, the program has been pilot tested at the airport. Similarly, Wise Nose, which specializes in training scent detection dogs, provides dog conditioning services through its new subsidiary Nose Academy.

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A total of 16 testing dogs are expected. However, only 10 were able to work in a busy and noisy environment. Similarly, currently only 4 have completed the training. These are people who have already started working at Vantaa Airport.

“While two dogs are working, the other two are on a break. The service is mainly intended for passengers arriving from outside the country,” explained Susanna Paavilainen, from Wise Nose in more detail.

Pioneers in the area

“[At Helsinki airport] We are among the pioneers. To our knowledge, no other airport has attempted to use canine odor detection on such a large scale against COVID-19. We are satisfied with the initiative of the city of Vantaa. This could be an additional step on the road to defeat COVID-1, “explained Ulla Lettijeff, director of the airport.

Although good results have been obtained in theory and in some laboratory tests, it is still not certain that this method will be the most effective against the coronavirus.

After all, like many other measures against SARS-CoV-2, we are still in the trial and error stage. dogs can smell the coronavirus

How does this particular system work?

Obviously, when we talk about including dogs in the COVID-19 testing process, we may have doubts about the procedure and its health and safety.

However, there is nothing to worry about, because the entities involved have undertaken the task of developing a system that protects passengers, trainers and even the dog itself.

After getting off the plane and packing up, passengers will be asked to wipe sweat from their necks with a towel. It is then placed in the container cup and moved to a separate cabin. There are dogs and trainers inside.

Cups with handkerchiefs and other containers with different smells will be placed in front of the animals.

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The dog only needs to smell the sample for 10 seconds to draw a conclusion. Overall, the process of sampling, transporting and obtaining results will take less than a minute.

If the person is infected with COVID-19, the dog can detect the smell on the wipes and send a physical signal that it has been found.

As a result, the person will first be removed from the crowd, then provided with a free COVID-19 test, and then escorted to the health information center in Vantaa at the airport. dogs can smell the coronavirus

The training

In order for sniffer dogs to perform this task, obviously, they must first learn to recognize the smell of viruses. This is what Wise Nose and the team from the University of Helsinki did together.

Despite the impressive results, the training process is completely standard. When dogs detect a positive sample, they will hear a specific sound indicating that they have reached their goal and received a reward. If they detect nothing, they go to the next sample. In the end, this is the entire adjustment process the dog needs.

However, it should be noted that not all dogs react in the same way to this. Virpi Perala, representative of the network of hospitals and veterinary clinics, Evidensia, commented that: “All dogs can be trained to smell the coronavirus, but they are individuals and not all can work in an airport.”

Likewise, despite the fact that each dog in the study already had experience detecting odors, not all learned at the same speed.

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Out of the first batch of 4 dogs trained to work at Helsinki Airport, an 8-year-old greyhound mix named Kossi stood out as it only took her 7 minutes to learn to identify the scent.

“Not all dogs can do it [that fast] as they operate in different ways. Kössi has a lot of experience in identifying biological samples, ”said Perala.

Same precision, faster results

In the overall situation, one of the most prominent points of dog participation is that they can provide high-quality results in less time than the most complex tests. Several studies (including one conducted by the University of Helsinki) have set the accuracy of dog detection between 94% and 100%.

Similarly, we have seen that the duration of the process has been greatly shortened, which allows the authorities to take more actions to contain the cases discovered.

As if not enough, this suggests that dogs can even detect the disease before it shows its initial symptoms-current tests are not yet able to do so.

Finally, dogs also showed lower standards in terms of sampling quality. In order for them to give accurate answers, they only need a sample containing 10 to 100 molecules.

For its part, laboratory tests require up to 18 million molecules-the difference between heaven and earth.

Is it safe for dogs?

Yes. In previous studies, it was possible to determine that dogs are not infected with the virus like other animals (such as cats or otters).

Similarly, even if they are infected with SARS-CoV-2, there is no evidence that it shows harmful symptoms in the human body, nor can it spread the virus once it enters the system.

Therefore, for the coronavirus, jumping on the dog is already dead. This means no need to worry about the chain of infection.