COVID-19 live updates: Total number of cases passes 930,000

A team of scientists from King’s College London, in the United Kingdom, have developed an app that allows individuals to self-report COVID-19 symptoms, or lack of symptoms, on a daily basis. 

After analyzing data from 1.5 million users between March 24 and 29, the team found that 59% of people who had received a COVID-19 diagnosis experienced a loss of smell and taste. 

Among those who had tested negative for COVID-19, only 18% reported a loss of smell and taste. 

“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 7 days to reduce the spread of the disease,” says Prof. Tim Spector, the senior author of the research.

Commenting on the findings, Prof. Trish Greenhalgh, from the University of Oxford, in the U.K., notes:

“This is an important study because it is the first to demonstrate scientifically and in a large population sample that loss of smell is a characteristic feature of COVID. The researchers also showed that loss of smell occasionally occurs in people who do not have COVID, and that not everyone with COVID loses their sense of smell.”

The findings echo calls by UK ENT, the professional body representing ear, nose, and throat surgery in the U.K., which issued a notice on March 23 suggesting that anosmia, or a loss of smell, could be a sign of COVID-19 in people who may otherwise have no symptoms.