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Odor loss may be an “extremely reliable indicator” of Covid-19, studies have found

Researchers based in the United Kingdom write in their study that people who lose either smell or taste should consider self-isolation, even if they have no other symptoms.

“Our findings show that the loss of smell and taste is an extremely reliable indicator that someone is likely to have Covid-19, and if we want to reduce the spread of this pandemic, it must now be seen by governments worldwide as a criterion for self-government. . isolation, testing and tracking of contacts, “said Rachel Butterham of University College London and University College London, who helped lead the research team, in a news release Thursday.

The team studied 590 volunteers who experienced a new loss of smell or taste and tested 567 of them for Covid-1


Among those 567 people who were tested, 77.6% were positive for Covid-19 antibodies. A total of 80.4% of participants who reported loss of odor and 77.8% of those who reported loss of taste had a positive test result, the researchers reported in the journal PLOS Medicine.

About 40% of those who tested positive for antibodies had no fever or cough.

Batterham and her colleagues also found that participants with only loss of odor were almost three times more likely than patients with only loss of taste to have Covid-19 antibodies, and participants with combined loss of smell and taste were four times more likely to have antibodies.

“These findings suggest that odor loss is a highly specific symptom of Covid-19, as opposed to taste loss, despite their comparable frequency,” the researchers wrote in the study.

The study recruited volunteers between April 23 and May 14, during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in London. The findings come with some limitations, including that the study did not include a comparative group of people who had not lost their sense of smell and / or taste.

In general, olfactory loss – called anosmia – appeared early in the pandemic as a possible symptom of Covid-19. In May, it was added to the official list of coronavirus symptoms in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

At the time, a government statement said, “All individuals should isolate themselves if they develop a new, prolonged cough or fever or anosmia.”

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