It's not unheard of for dogs to sniff out substances or diseases—there are dogs trained to sniff out explosives, drugs, and even cancer. However, 10 dogs at Helsinki Airport are searching for something just as dangerous: COVID-19.
The dogs were deployed as part of a pilot program, according to Finavia, a Finnish airport operator. Helsinki Airport is the first one in Europe, and the second across the globe, to utilize the natural abilities of dogs in an effort to battle the coronavirus.
"This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19," said airport director Ulla Lettijeff.
Trained dogs are capable of smelling the coronavirus from 100 molecules are less, which is far less than the 19-million molecules utilized by PCR tests. Research from the University of Helsinki has indicated that the dogs are close to 100% accurate in detecting the virus.
A similar program has been implemented at Dubai International Airport and reported the dogs' accuracy at 91%.
Dogs are able to detect the virus even sooner than lab tests—before an infected individual begins to display symptoms.
The dogs will mainly be used to test travelers arriving from other countries.