Dogs were able to smell the virus almost 100 percent of the time. They can even detect the virus days before the first symptoms appear. “That is something that laboratory tests have proved impossible,” says Finavia. Dogs only need ten to a hundred molecules to identify the virus, PCR tests involve eighteen million molecules.
The test does not require direct contact between passengers and dogs. Participants in the test wipe their skin with a cloth and place it in a cup. This is then presented to the dog in an isolated room for ‘inspection’. In case of a positive test result, the passenger will be taken to a health point at the airport.
Dogs from the Wise Nose organization, which is affiliated with the university, are used for the test. In the future, Finnish customs tracking dogs could take over the tasks. To make this possible, the legislation still needs to be amended.
According to Finavia director Ulla Lettijeff, Helsinki Airport is one of the pioneers in detecting corona infections with dogs. Last month, Dubai Airport started using dogs to detect covid-19 using blood samples.