New key signs of COVID-19 infection: loss of smell, taste says British research


British scientist’s study revealed that the loss of smell and taste could be the new vital signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infections, based on the data collected by their symptom tracker app.

The researchers’ analyzed data showed 60% of infected patients had reported losing their sense of smell and taste before testing positive of the pandemic. That compared with 18% of those who tested negative.


Scientists at King’s College London said these results were much more substantial in predicting COVID-19 diagnosis compared to self-reported fever. The data, however, were posted online and were not peer-reviewed.

According to Reuters, “Of 1.5 million app users between March 24 and March 29, 26% reported one or more symptoms through the app. Of these, 1,702 also reported having been tested for COVID-19, with 579 positive results and 1,123 negative results.”

The research team developed a mathematical model to identify a combination of symptoms that could best predict COVID-19 infections. It includes loss of smell and taste, fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.


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Loss of smell, taste new key signs of COVID-19 infection

“When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be three 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,” said Tim Spector, a King’s professor who led the study.

The research team applied their findings to the more than 400,000 individuals who reported symptoms through their app who had not been screened for coronavirus. They found out 13% of those people are likely to be infected.

The percentage translates to some 50,000 people in Britain who may have unconfirmed COVID-19 infections, Spector said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Britain increased by 14% between Monday and Tuesday to 25,150 as of Tuesday at 0800 GMT and 1,789 fatalities as of 1600 GMT on Monday.

COVID-19 infection diagnosis had been very challenging since the beginning because its symptoms are similar to ordinary flu.

The World Health Organization listed fever, tiredness, dry cough as common symptoms. However, shortness of breath, aches and pains, sore throat, and very few people reported diarrhea, nausea, or a runny nose as other symptoms of the deadly virus.