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game-changing US company that trains dogs to detect Covid-19 to set up European headquarters in Ireland

Bio-detection K9 dogs are already being utilised at NBA and Nascar events in the US with a reliability rate of 'almost 99 per cent' in detecting Covid


Dog sniffing for Covid 19

Dog sniffing for Covid 19

Dog sniffing for Covid 19

A US company, that trains dogs to detect Covid 19, is to set up its European Headquarters in Ireland - in what could prove a 'game-changing' moment for the crippled live events industry in this country.

Canada director of Bio-detection K9, Derek O'Rourke - who formerly worked as a HSE paramedic supervisor- this week confirmed to the Sunday World that the company is planning a European location and centre of K9 excellence based in Ireland.

Mr. O'Rourke explained how Bio-detection K9 dogs are already being utilised at NBA and Nascar events in the US with a reliability rate of 'almost 99 per cent' in detecting Covid.

This, he said, means the dogs can instantly and reliably alert to a Covid positive person as the individual enters the country, queues to attend an event or gets on or off a plane or ferry.

Mr. O'Rourke continued that the cost of utilising the dogs is a fraction of that associated with PCR testing.

"The cost savings are immense," he told this newspaper.

"A recent test event saw 4,000 people in Ireland tested with an associated cost of in the region of €300,000 when all labor is factored in.

"They used antigen testing which at best is 75% -80% accurate and there is still the associated waiting time and all the bio-hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of.

"Had bio-detection dogs been utilized, it would have cost less than €15,000 with minimal wait times and zero bio-hazardous waste."

European Director of Bio-detection K9, John Kidd - who is Chair of the Irish Fire & Emergency Services Association - predicted Ireland will not be the only European country keen on using the dogs once the company establishes a headquarters here.

"European member states are aware of the benefits of COVID detection dogs," he said.

"These canines could be rolled out across Ireland and Europe, with firefighters and paramedics in member states utilized as the dog handlers with adequate training."

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So how does it work and how long until the dogs will be operational in Ireland?

"Dogs have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell," said Mr. O'Rourke.

"And this highly evolved tool is already being used to detect explosives, firearms, narcotics, contraband tobacco and several diseases such as cancers and even epilepsy.

"Bio-detection K9 has been actively training canines to detect agricultural pathogens since 2011 with the help of renowned US Department of Agriculture virologist Dr. William Schneider.

"In the years preceding COVID, BDK9 developed a proprietary method to train canines to directly detect pathogens using expressed pathogen proteins."

Mr. O'Rourke continued that BDK9 and Dr. Schneider's approach has two major advantages:

"In vitro, expressed proteins are completely safe for canines and handlers while training canines to directly detect pathogens such as viruses results in much better diagnostic specificity," he said.

"Using this approach, Bio-detection has produced 99% accurate COVID detector canines that can non-invasively assess human subjects in seconds, with no need for reagents, eliminating bio-hazardous waste.

"Covid detection dogs are recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valuable tool and aid to COVID detection.

"A scientifically trained dog can detect on each person in less than 30 seconds where most COVID-19 Detection testing methods take at least 15 minutes per person.

"On average, detection testing costs businesses and governments anywhere from €60.00 to €120.00 per person.

"Bio-Detection K9 and their dog screening solutions costs less than €2.00 per person.

"The cost savings, accuracy, time savings and the elimination of bio-hazardous waste make this detection screening method, the best value, most accurate and environmentally sustainable solution worldwide.

Mr. O'Rourke said the company will be looking at sites of up to 20 acres in size in which to base a headquarters here.

"The dogs could be operational and on the ground in Ireland and across Europe within 6-8 weeks of procurement," he said.

"We will be talking to the IDA about a suitable location as a European HQ.

"We're looking for a 20-acre site to include training facilities, kennels, laboratory and admin offices. "If the pandemic was to abate, the dogs can be imprinted on alternative or additional odours."

Mr. O'Rourke said these odours include narcotics, explosives, firearms, illegal tobacco and money.

"This means they can be redeployed to other agencies like An Garda Siochana or the Revenue Commissioners or even the Department of Agriculture where they can be potentially trained by bio-detection K9 to detect agricultural viruses such as those that appear in potato seed, avian influenza virus or even swine flu in pigs."

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