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 IPM - April 19, 2020

IPM researcher reports: Smell dysfunction as a biomarker for COVID-19

 According to numerous media reports, loss of the ability to smell (anosmia) may occur in patients who have contracted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In an international collaboration between IPM led by Dr Shima Taallohi, Masih Daneshvari Hospital, and Dr. Richard Doty of the University of Pennsylvania, scientists accurately measured the sense of smell of 60 Iranian COVID-19 inpatients and 60 healthy controls.
The testing was performed at Masih Daneshvari Hospital using a Persian version of the 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), the gold standard for assessing smell function. This joint effort between Iranian and American scientists was the first study to actually measure the smell function of COVID-19 patients. Remarkably, 59 of the 60 patients (98%) exhibited some degree of smell dysfunction, with over half having total or near-total loss. The degree of dysfunction was uninfluenced by age, sex, disease severity, or comorbidities. This is the first solid scientific evidence of the extent to which SARS-CoV-2 affects the ability to smell.
This pioneering study strongly suggests that quantitative olfactory tests might serve as a rapid and inexpensive diagnostic means to identify patients with COVID-19 in the general population.

The research has been published in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology on April 17th, 2020.

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