Loss of smell and taste are a strong sign that someone is infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 — and in some cases it may occur without the other symptoms of cough or fever, according to new research published Thursday.
The researchers, based in the United Kingdom, wrote in their study that people who lose either smell or taste should consider self-isolating, even if they have no other symptoms.
“Our findings show that loss of smell and taste is a highly reliable indicator that someone is likely to have Covid-19 and if we are to reduce the spread of this pandemic, it should now be considered by governments globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing and contact tracing,” Rachel Batterham, of University College London and University College London Hospitals, who helped lead the study team, said in a news release on Thursday.
The team studied 590 volunteers who experienced a new loss of smell or taste, and they tested 567 of them for Covid-19.
Among those 567 people who were tested, 77.6% tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies. In total, 80.4% of participants reporting smell loss and 77.8% of those reporting taste loss had a positive test result, the researchers reported in the journal PLOS Medicine.