Loss of Taste and Smell: Key Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection
ENT Societies, including those in the US and UK, are signaling the medical community to be on alert for anosmia and altered sense of taste (dysgeusia). These symptoms are associated with COVID-19 and may be especially important because often these patients will have no other presenting symptoms
Data from the King’s College London COVID Symptom Tracker app was analyzed to assess the association between sense of smell and taste and COVID-19 infection
The COVID Symptom Tracker app was developed by a King’s College London team in association with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and a healthcare start-up biotech company
Users are asked to log their symptoms daily, including if they are symptomatic
Researchers looked at loss of sense of smell and taste as symptoms of COVID-19
Predictive Model for COVID-19
Researchers also developed a model based on the app data to identify which combination of symptoms could best predict COVID-19 cases
Combination of symptoms included
Loss of smell and taste | Fever | Persistent cough | Fatigue | Diarrhea | Abdominal pain | Loss of appetite
1.5 million app users reported one or more symptoms through the app (March 24 through 29, 2020)
Number of participants tested for COVID-19: 1,702
579 positive results
1,123 negative results
Percent who reported loss of smell and taste
COVID-19 positive: 59%
COVID-19 negative: 18%
Predictive model using a combination of symptoms
Strongest predictor in the above model was loss of smell and taste, even more so than fever
The model was applied to approximately >400,000 individuals with symptoms, but not yet tested
The model predicted that 13% are likely infected (approximately 50,000)
Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector states
When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be 3 times more likely to have contracted COVID-19 according to our data, and should therefore self-isolate for seven days to reduce the spread of the disease
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