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Sniffer dog at airport
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Dogs are being trained to sniff out Covid-19 at airports

The pups, nicknamed ‘The Super Six’, are currently in training in the UK

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

Wondering what travelling around the world might be like, once it’s eventually safe to do so? We know masks will be must-wears, while seats in planes might look a little different and cabin crew could be wearing hazmat-style suits instead of their usual twin sets. In some countries you might be greeted by a 14-day quarantine period before you can begin your trip in earnest, while in other places, like Iceland, you’ll be subjected to a test as you step off the plane. Now, you might also be met by a dog. 

Finding a cute pup waiting for you in arrivals might sound like the dream, but these dogs will be at work, attempting to sniff out people who have contracted Covid-19. 

Research trials are already underway in the UK to find out if airport sniffer dogs, currently used to find drugs, cash and other prohibited items, can be trained to also detect Covid-19. The hope is that they are able to spot it even on travellers who aren’t yet displaying or won’t ever display symptoms. 

How is that even possible? Apparently, respiratory diseases can cause changes in body odour, which the specially-trained dogs should be able to pick up. Dogs have already been trained to detect illnesses like malaria, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s. 

Professor James Logan, the lead researcher on the project, told CNN: ‘It builds up on years of research that we've already done as a team to demonstrate that people who have a malaria infection have a distinctive body odour and we've shown that dogs can be trained to detect that with very high accuracy.’

The clever pups in question are all either Labrador retrievers or cocker spaniels. The gang currently in training have been nicknamed ‘The Super Six’ and they are the heroes our travel industry needs in this trying time. 

When will we able able to travel again? Here’s what we know so far

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