Billions are being spent to develop the best testing solution in the fight of covid-19, and plenty more being spent on actually taking the tests. But what if the solution to many of the world’s covid-19 related problems, particularly in travel, simply involve calling on man’s best friend – dogs.

A trial at Helsinki Airport has completed with fascinating results, where sniffer dogs were statistically as accurate as invasive covid-19 tests in detecting the virus among passengers. You’ve got questions, and there are some answers, with more to come.

Helsinki Airport Sniffer Dog Test

It may have originally sounded like a ploy to make travel feel warm and fuzzy again, but Helsinki Airport’s trial of sniffer dogs to detect covid-19 may indeed become an integral part of the solution which helps travel recover from a dangerous standstill.

View From The Wing notes that parallel trials using covid-19 tests and sniffer dogs yielded statistically identical results. The test results detected 0.6% of travelers were infected with covid-19, with over 16,000 sampled. The dogs? You guessed it, 0.6%.

The test results are preliminary and haven’t yet analyzed whether dog detections match up identically with lab tested covid-19 positive cases. Final results are expected before the end of the year.

While lab results, or rapid test results can take anywhere from a minimum time of 10 minutes, to 5 days, dog detections are near instantaneous – and importantly for many travelers and airports alike… they’re free. Well, minus the cost of food and nice lodging for their hard working dogs.

If you’re passing through Helsinki, be sure to wave to ET, Miina and Kosi, the three pioneer dogs in the study. According to RFI France, Valo, a fourth dog is training to enter service on the team.

How Sniffer Dog Covid-19 Tests Work

Sniffer dogs in airports are given a swap of a persons skin, rather than sticking anything up a persons nose, or using a blood test. It’s simply a swap much like those seen on drug detector machines in airports.

The dog sniffs the swab sample, and then gives a positive or negative response. The dog would react and move toward a positive swab, but wouldn’t react to a negative swab.

Can it work elsewhere?

Dogs have been vital in the detection of drugs and and potentially harmful devices in venues around the globe, so there’s no reason to believe things could be any different here. The question becomes – how fast, and how accurately could training scale up.

Governments may be more wary of dog detections than lab proven results, but if further testing proves as promising, the worries would lack basis. For passengers, a less invasive solution without a financial strain would be an incredibly positive way to move forward.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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