- COVID-19-detecting dogs were unleashed, figuratively, at the Miami International Airport this week.
- Cobra and One Betta will sniff the masks of employees to detect the virus in their sweat and breath.
- In published trials, the dogs were successful 96-99% of the time.
Miami International Airport launched a 30-day pilot program this week with Cobra and One Betta, a pair of professionally trained COVID-19-detecting dogs.
“We’re blessed in Miami-Dade County to have the first COVID-sniffing dog — actually, we have a couple of them — and it’s the first airport anywhere that’s utilizing this type of technology in our four-legged friends,” Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz told CBS News.
Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch Shepherd, have been trained to detect COVID-19 through a sniff test and to alert when it is present.
They were trained at the Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University, according to the airport. In published, peer-reviewed, double-blind trials, the dogs accurately detected the virus 96-99% of the time.
Cobra and One Betta will be used at an employee security checkpoint, where they will sniff the masks of each employee to detect the virus through their sweat and breath, which will contain a scent caused by metabolic changes the virus causes in a person.
If the dog detects the virus, the person will then undergo a rapid COVID test.
“Being able to apply decades of research in this way, to provide an additional layer of protection to airport employees at Miami International Airport, it’s humbling,” Kenneth G. Furton, a provost and professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida International University, said in a statement. “These dogs are another valuable tool we can leverage to help us live with this ongoing pandemic.”