Teasing Out Smell

June 22, 2020

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Anchor lead: It seems that loss of the sense of smell may be useful in tracking the spread of COVID-19, Elizabeth Tracey reports

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Google searches showed that people in areas where the virus was spreading were searching for ‘loss of smell.’ Andrew Lane, director of rhinology and sinus surgery at Johns Hopkins, says this led to researchers asking the question directly.

Lane: In doing phone surveys, when you ask people who may or may not have the disease, have you had an acute, sudden loss of your sense of smell? And a surprising number of people, more than you would think under normal circumstances, would say yes. How do you confirm that? The availability of testing hasn’t been enough to be able to then go and confirm that that person has loss of sense of smell due to infection with the Sars-CoV2 virus. You don’t know, but you can say that if normally, some small percentage of the population loses their sense of smell, there are some, it happens, but its not a very large percentage of people.   :32

Lane says as testing becomes more readily accessible, confirmation of the loss of smell as a predictor will be possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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