• Alysa Salzberg

The cutest COVID test: virus-sniffing dogs

Over the past six months, humans have been racing to find an effective coronavirus vaccine. That search often gets the spotlight, but finding efficient, fast, and above all accurate ways to test for COVID-19 has also been important. Finland’s Helsinki Airport has decided to use one such method…and it’s adorable.


The COVID-19 test in question is COVID-sniffing dogs, or “corona dogs”. These dogs, many of whom were previously employed to sniff out cancer in humans, can detect the virus’s presence with 94-100% accuracy, simply by smelling a skin swab.


That latter point also means that the dogs and humans don’t have to come into contact, meaning the dogs can be kept in a calm environment, and people who are allergic to or afraid of dogs can be isolated from them, as well.


This may sound like some crazy new idea, but in recent years, dogs’ acute sense of smell has been proven to detect conditions including cancer and diabetes in humans. We even covered a story earlier this year about dogs at France’s prestigious Insitut Curie who were being tested on their ability to detect breast cancer.


But if you’re still not confident about dogs’ super-sniffing abilities, don’t worry; if a “corona dog” detects a positive result, the person in question is asked to take a PCR (nose swab) test to confirm the results.


And if you’re a fellow animal lover, here’s another reassuring detail: The dogs’ head trainer says that from what we know, there’s no risk of the dogs catching coronavirus from sniffing the samples, since they don’t have the receptors that the virus attaches to.


Read on to learn more about Helsinki’s “corona dogs”. And to learn even more – and see a video as well, check out this article from The Guardian.


Want still more “corona dog” coverage? Have a look at this article for additional photos, including ones that show the testing process.




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