Research reports and anecdotes show that people with COVID -19 can experience a reduced sense of smell and taste. Researchers at Stockholm University will join a large international team investigating the connection.

Do you think you have the new corona virus? If you know you do or suspect it, you can participate in a new study.

“There are research reports that show a connection between the symptoms of COVID-19 and reduced smell. We don’t know why, but it appears to be relatively common. If you know about the changes and have symptoms then you can isolate yourself and stop the disease from spreading further. It’s important information to communicate”, says Jonas Olofsson, researcher at the Department of Psychology and principal researcher for Stockholm University’s part of the project.

The survey on which the study is based has been developed by The Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR), a network of over 400 researchers from 50 different countries. The network was created in response to anecdotal reports that COVID-19 affects smell. The purpose of the survey is to find out more about how smell and taste are changed and whether this is different from other respiratory diseases. Jonas Olofsson hopes that the first results will be ready by the end of April.

“I think that it’s fantastic that research can be so quick. Hundreds of people working together can get things done. I hope that this will change research on the chemical senses and lead to new studies where this large group works together”, he says.

The survey contains questions about how people experience taste and smell and what other symptoms they have. Research from Jonas Olofsson done with his then PhD student Ingrid Ekström who is now at KI shows that people are good at reporting changes to their own sense of smell.

“Previously it was thought that people weren’t able to judge their own sense of smell. It’s not always true that people who believe they have a good nose always do, but it’s difficult to compare your sense of smell with others. However, we have shown that people are good at detecting if their own sense of smell gets worse, especially if it happens quickly. And that’s what is interesting in this case”, say Jonas Olofsson.

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