(WTNH) — A look at what may be the future of big events in the age of COVID – the Miami Heat basketball team is allowing a limited number of fans to attend games starting later this week with the help of virus-sniffing dogs to screen them.
An NBA team’s new experimental defense against the coronavirus – COVID-19 detection dogs, similar to the canines on patrol at airports around the world.
Later this week, the Miami Heat will station specially trained dogs at entrances to the American Airlines arena to try to sniff out the virus that causes COVID-19.
Here’s the plan – dogs will sniff fans before entering by walking past them. If the dog sits, that signals they may have detected COVID-19, and that fan will be asked to leave along with their group and given a full refund.
“It’s really, really interesting. Dogs are amazing creatures and their noses are way more powerful than ours,” Matthew Jafarian.
Medical specialists point out that research done in this area is exciting but preliminary. No study has been scrutinized by peer review or tried in a public place like the arena when the Heat play. The FDA has not signed off on this method of screening
Dogs have been used to sniff out possible bombs and some have even detected early stages of ovarian cancer.
“They have up to 300 million smell receptors – while humans only have about 6 million – making dogs uniquely equipped to detect scents humans can’t.”
“What we’re trying to do is find if there is an odor a volatile organic compound basically, that is telling us that there is a difference. And what we’re hoping is that the dogs can figure that out,” Dr. Cynthia Otto.
But infectious disease experts warn that a traditional COVID test is more reliable and are concerned these dogs could give people false comfort
“Adding innovative tools like dog sniffing course is really exciting, but it shouldn’t give this false sense of security. And truthfully, we should be still relying on widespread testing to fully get this pandemic under control,” Dr. Brownstein.
The Heat will have rapid tests available for anyone who’s either allergic or afraid of dogs. Most importantly, all other COVID protocols remain in place.
There’s a limited amount of fans being let in to ensure social distancing. Everyone will have to wear a mask at all times. These dogs are just an added layer.