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COVID Detection Dogs Sniffing Passengers for Virus at Dubai Airport

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It’s already been proven that specially trained dogs can be faster and more accurate at detecting coronavirus infections than nasal swabs and saliva tests. Now, in the first real-world application of their skills, virus-sniffing police dogs dogs are performing rapid COVID-19 testing on incoming passengers at Dubai International Airport.


Like most passengers traveling to international destinations across the world, those arriving in Dubai are required to be tested for COVID-19 and show proof of negative results prior to entry into the country. Now, as an added layer of security, passengers can be retested on-site, within just minutes… by a simple sniff from a specially trained K9.

Because a COVID-19 infection affects a person’s body chemistry ever-so-slightly, the dogs are trained to sniff out very unique odor changes that are undetectable by humans. Best of all, they’re able to do it with at least 92% accuracy.

The Emirates News Agency created a video to explain how it works:

As passengers arrive in Dubai, they’re directed to a special testing area where samples of body odor are taken via an armpit swab. The trained dogs then sniff a series of these jars from a separate room, alerting their handlers when they detect a COVID-19 sample. Passengers and detection dogs never come into direct contact with each other.

If a dog alerts on a passenger’s sample, that person is directed to another area of the airport for additional nasal swab testing.

While the COVID-sniffing dogs are currently being used as an additional safety measure to standard nasal swab testing, Dubai International Airport’s use of the animals provides hope that immediate, on-demand, and non-invasive testing can be done easily and accurately in a wide variety of applications.

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