Meet the COVID-19 Sniffer Dog in the United Arab Emirates

Dubai-Dubai police have built a special unit of 38 detection dogs capable of detecting COVID-19 from human sweat samples with 92% accuracy, training program supervisors told Reuters.

Dubai police trained a cohort, including German Shepherd, Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, and Border Collie, used sweat samples from people with confirmed infections to recognize the scent of COVID-19, and put a cotton swab on the flank for a few minutes. Held and collected.

“Then put a tiny amount in a jar — it smells of the patient — then we give a sample for the dog to sniff … when he gives us a sign, we give him a treat “First said Lieutenant Nacelle Alfalashi of the Dubai Police, the program supervisor of the K9 Training Center in the Aweal region of Dubai.

In the center’s large training hall, police handlers walk dogs along a row of metal boxes. Only one of them contains a positive sample. The dog sniffs the sample and sits within seconds to let it know that it has found something.

Fatima Aljasmi, a police trainer on the COVID-19 detection team, guides the excited black-and-white border collie into exercises and understands them correctly every time.

“Training was a bit difficult. I learned new skills by international standards and trained dogs in it,” she said.

The United Arab Emirates airport was the first airport in the world to attempt COVID-19 detection in dogs in 2020. Dogs are no longer used at UAE airports, but are ready to be deployed where they are needed.

A study on the ability of dogs to detect COVID-19 infection, published in June by the United Arab Emirates College of Technology and the federal customs authorities in Abu Dhabi in Communications Biology, part of the British scientific journal Nature, found 98.2%. It ended with the detection success rate. ..

In this study, 3,290 sweat samples and PCR tests were used to compare the detection capabilities of dogs.

COVID-19 sniffer dog
A dog trained by the Dubai Police K-9 unit to sniff out COVID-19 was filmed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on September 13, 2021. (Abdel Hadi Ramahi / Reuters)

The 92% detection rate mentioned by Farashi comes from a survey conducted by the UAE’s Interior Ministry in early 2020, as reported by the state news agency WAM.

Several other countries, including Finland, the United States and France, are conducting their own dog training and testing of COVID-19 dog detection. ..

According to Farashi, dogs are currently tested about 30-40 times a day. Bolt, a black and tan Belgian Malinois, was the first COVID-19 detection dog he trained.

“He performs his duties frequently. He probably did more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests,” Farashi proudly said.

Dubai Police Major Sarah Harifa al-Mazroy said she has been asked by the world to share her knowledge of how to train dogs to sniff out COVID-19.

Dubai police also have dogs trained to sniff out drugs and explosives. This skill will be used by the Emirate of Dubai to prepare to open the exhibition hall for the Dubai World’s Fair next month.

Abdelhadi Ramahi