Ontario researchers join global initiative to study loss of smell in COVID-19 patients

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 62, No. 5, June 2020, Page 179 News COVID-19

As part of an initiative called the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR), scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University are studying the sudden loss of smell (anosmia) in COVID-19 patients. They are asking individuals with confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 worldwide to participate in a survey to better understand this symptom.

A sudden loss of smell has been widely reported as a marker of COVID-19. More research is needed but emerging evidence suggests that more than 60% of COVID-19 patients experience anosmia and that it is often the first symptom of the disease.

In the new study, patients with loss of smell will answer questions through a publicly accessible survey. They will be asked about their experiences with COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. An immediate goal is to better understand the association between anosmia and COVID-19, and determine if loss of smell is the same in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The team also hopes to determine if loss of smell happens before other symptoms of COVID-19 as it could allow for earlier self-isolation advice.

While there are existing therapies that can aid in regaining a sense of smell, it’s currently unknown whether they are effective for COVID-19 patients. The long-term consequences of anosmia in COVID-19 patients are also unknown. Researchers encourage anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or another respiratory illness to complete the survey if they are able. The survey is currently available in 10 languages at www.covidandsmell.com.

. Ontario researchers join global initiative to study loss of smell in COVID-19 patients. BCMJ, Vol. 62, No. 5, June, 2020, Page(s) 179 - News, COVID-19.

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