Led by the nose: Meet the UAE's COVID-19 sniffer dogs
One year after completing one of the first studies into canine detection of COVID-19, the United Arab Emirates now has 38 sniffer dogs working at its airports that can identify infected persons at a 98.2-percent success rate, Reuters reports.
Dubai Police trained the cohort, which includes German Shepherds, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Border Collies, to recognize the scent of COVID-19 using samples of sweat from people with confirmed infections, collected by holding a swab in an armpit for a few minutes.
"A very small amount of that is then put into a jar - it has the scent of the patient - then we put the sample out for the dog to sniff ... When he gives us a sign, we give him a treat," said First Lieutenant Nasser al-Falasi of Dubai Police, supervisor of the program at the K9 training center in Dubai's Awir region.
The study in Dubai, published in June in Communications Biology, part of the British scientific journal Nature, concluded with a 98.2 per cent detection success rate.
The study used sweat samples and PCR tests from 3,290 people to compare the dogs detection abilities.
Several other countries, including Finland, the United States and France have been running their own dog training and trials of canine detection of COVID-19.
The dogs are mainly used in airports across the UAE, but are ready to be used wherever required.
Dubai has received requests from around the world to share knowledge about how to train dogs to sniff out COVID-19, Dubai Police's Major Salah Khalifa al-Mazroui said.
Dubai Police also has dogs trained to sniff out drugs and explosives, skills put to use as the emirate of Dubai prepares to open the Dubai Expo2020 world fair exhibition site next month.