Dogs sniff out airport covid with 98% accuracy; know how it works

The Miami airport has two new weapons for detecting people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Cobra, a Belgian shepherd, and One Betta, a German shepherd, are two dogs that are part of a pilot program that aims to recognize infected employees by sniffing their masks and minimizing the risk of viral transmission.

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The project is a partnership with the Global Center for Justice and Forensic Science, linked to Florida International University. Researchers have been training the animals to sniff out signs of people infected with covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, and they appear to have succeeded. Today, its success rate in case detection is 506274%.

The process training begins with the presentation of odor, among many others, which must be detected by the animals’ sense of smell. They need to specifically understand which scent to look for and separate it from the others.

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And how do you identify the smell of the covid-, in the end? Infected patients exude chemical substances than a healthy person, and these differences can be identified in their masks.

One Betta, one of the dogs used in the detection of covid at Miami International Airport (Image: Publicity/Miami International Airport)

During the training phase, it was necessary for the team to acquire samples of masks from hospitalized people and others from those who had not contracted the virus. First, it was possible to identify that, yes, there is a difference in the smells produced by the two groups.

Then, this information was used to refine what was specifically the target of the refined snouts of Cobra and One Betta, who became able to find the infected masks among several used by those who were not infected. Whenever they got it right, they got a reward: access to their favorite toy.

Despite being efficient, the dogs still didn’t have much work. Between 19 August and September 8, they analyzed 1.093 employees and detected only one case. The person had been diagnosed with covid two weeks earlier and had just returned to work after quarantine; after a quick test, it was released.

There are some problems with using animals to detect covid, however. One is that they are living creatures and need to have a clear destination for retirement, which can be difficult if too many dogs are used. Also, training can take months, so it’s not feasible on a large scale.

Source: Medscape

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