(Nicola Davis/ The Guardian) — It is simple and pain-free, could be used to test for coronavirus in care homes, airports and schools, and might just be more realistic than the UK government’s £100bn “Operation Moonshoot” mass screening plan. Its name? Fido.
Around the world – from the UK to Finland, Spain, Brazil, Lebanon and Australia – teams of researchers are training dogs to sniff out Covid-19. And some say the idea of training hundreds of thousands of canine noses to check for coronavirus is not as far-fetched as it may sound.
How do dogs do it? At Finland’s Helsinki airport, where four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work in a state-funded pilot scheme, passengers dab their skin with a wipe, which is placed in a beaker next to others containing control scents. If the dog detects the virus – shown by yelping, pawing, or lying down – the passenger takes a free swab test to verify its verdict.
Speaking to the Guardian, scientists said any breed could in theory be trained – a process that takes between two and 10 weeks – raising the prospect of pet canines joining an army of Covid sniffers. (…)