The Finnish dogs win!
In late September, Finland launched a pilot program using dogs to detect travelers carrying COVID-19 at the Helsinki airport!
Of course, we can’t go there right now, so we cannot see the dogs in action (yet).
Several organizations in the U.S. are also training COVID-sniffing dogs, but the Finns got there first.
The dogs will sniff samples voluntarily provided by arriving airline passengers, and the passengers and dogs will have no contact. This is a good model, since some people are afraid of — or allergic to — dogs.
The dogs are extremely accurate, and can even detect COVID-19 before the standard testing can: Anna Hielm-Björkman, one of the researchers, said that the dogs may be better at spotting coronavirus infections than PCR and antibody tests. They “can also find [people] that are not yet PCR positive but will become PCR positive within a week,” she said.
Dogs’ noses are truly amazing, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what they can do!