Introducing: Covid sniffing dogs

Originally published at: Introducing: Covid sniffing dogs | Boing Boing


I bet this will be used to harass people deemed undesirable by racist authorities at airports and public transport hubs.


I don’t think dogs should ever be used as detection in person to person situations.


I remember this.


So the dogs managed to find almost all the COVID-positive people in the group? They were apparently not as good at avoiding “false positives”, the specificity of COVID testing by dog was quite a bit lower than that of antigen testing (which rarely produces false positives). This sucks if you don’t get to go on the plane because the dog thought you have COVID but in fact you haven’t, and I suspect that potential liability issues in such cases contribute to COVID-sniffing dogs not being more widely used.

Generally, using dogs to sniff out anything is fraught with potential problems due to possible subtle and unconscious interactions between the dog and its handler (the “Clever Hans” effect), and because to the dog, the sniffing job is basically a form of entertainment, so the dog had better not get bored.

Finally, how many COVID-19 sniffing dogs (and handlers) do you need? Compared to rapid antigen tests, which can be administered by basically anyone after a short course of instruction, training enough dogs and dog handlers on an ongoing basis would be a bottleneck and also very expensive.


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