Passengers alighting at Helsinki Airport in Finland ranging from earlier this week may have a speedier – and far fuzzier – means of getting examined for COVID-19.

A staff of canine has been deployed to fill their snoots with eau d’arriving passenger to smell out these contaminated with the virus behind the present international pandemic.


If profitable, the pilot scheme might assist present a extra environment friendly technique of detection that might be utilized in a spread of situations.

“We’re among the many pioneers,” stated airport director Ulla Lettijeff of aviation firm Finavia.

“So far as we all know no different airport has tried to make use of canine scent detection on such a big scale towards COVID-19. We’re happy with the town of Vantaa’s initiative. This may be a further step ahead on the way in which to beating COVID-19.”

For individuals with allergy symptoms, or concern of canine, there is no motive to fret. The passengers may have no direct contact with the canine COVID-19 detectives.

The take a look at is carried out from a wipe that’s swiped on the passenger’s pores and skin, and positioned in a cup. In a separate sales space, the canine will sniff the pattern. If the canine detects COVID-19, they are going to make a bodily signal.

Why the canine can detect the virus shouldn’t be completely clear. Nevertheless, a current French research discovered that canine educated to scent the distinction between armpit sweat from wholesome individuals and people with COVID-19 might achieve this with 95 p.c certainty.


One other current German research discovered that canine educated to do the identical with saliva samples might detect COVID-19 with 94 p.c accuracy.

And researchers on the Veterinary College of the College of Helsinki say their canine might detect COVID-19 with an analogous degree of certainty – “nearly 100 p.c”, based on Finavia’s announcement of the scheme.

“This analysis has exceeded our expectations,” veterinarian Anna Hielm-Björkman of the College of Helsinki advised nationwide broadcaster Yle.

“The canine have recognized most cancers and different ailments prior to now, however we now have been shocked at how a lot simpler it’s for the canine to identify corona.”

However it’s not simply the accuracy that issues right here. There’s the velocity of the take a look at; with a laboratory take a look at, outcomes take a while. Canine may detect the virus ahead of laboratory checks, days earlier than signs seem. They usually require a a lot smaller pattern – 10 to 100 molecules, versus the 18 million required for laboratory checks, Finavia stated.


Passengers for whom the canine point out a constructive outcome might be directed to a well being info level situated within the airport.

Ten canine are being educated for the duty, all of whom have had earlier scent detection expertise. Every shift will consist of 4 canine.


“Canine must relaxation every now and then,” stated Susanna Paavilainen of WiseNose, an organization that specialises in coaching scent detection canine. “Whereas two canine are working, the opposite two are on a break. The service is especially supposed for passengers arriving from exterior the nation.”

The canine themselves ought to be secure. Canine can take a look at constructive to COVID-19, however, based on a research from Could of this yr, it appears to pose them no well being hazards, and do not appear capable of transmit the virus to different animals.

The pilot program, based on The Guardian, is scheduled to run for 4 months, after which the outcomes might be assessed. If it goes nicely, sniffer canine might ultimately substitute the people at the moment testing incoming passengers for the coronavirus.

In the meantime, Finland shouldn’t be the one nation driving the canine prepare.

Different nations, corresponding to Saudi Arabia, France, Chile, Australia and Brazil are additionally investigating the employment of scent detection canine for quicker, safer detection of COVID-19.