Four dogs have been selected for the initial training, a mix of labradors and golden retrievers who sport green "biodetector" jackets for their task. They are being trained at the Chilean CarabinerosÂ´ specialist training base in the capital Santiago.
Chilean police are training sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus in people's sweat at an early stage, after a similar trial in the UK showed encouraging results.
Four dogs have been selected for the initial training, a mix of labradors and golden retrievers who sport green "biodetector" jackets for their task. They are being trained at the Chilean Carabineros´ specialist training base in the capital Santiago.
Sniffer dogs are best-known for detecting drugs, explosives and people but have also previously been trained to detect other diseases including malaria, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Lieutenant Colonel Cristian Acevedo Yanez, director of the police specialty training school, said dogs had more than 3 million olfactory receptors, more than 50 times those of humans, so were uniquely placed to help fight the coronavirus.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
He said the canines could play a critical part as Chile seeks to gradually reopen its schools and shops and get people back to work.
"The role of police is to strengthen our detection abilities in this 'new normal'," he said. "The idea is that our dogs would be in busy places such as schools, bus terminals and airports, and could detect people at an early stage of the disease to be able to isolate them and perform the appropriate PCR test, avoiding mass contagions," he said."Essentially what these dogs, four at first, and their guides, will do is save lives.