Loss of smell function (Anosmia) is reported to be associated with novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. The present study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an indigenously developed prototype smell test to identify/diagnose asymptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals. A panel of five different odorants belonging to Indian household with unique and mutually exclusive odor were used to develop prototype kit to test the hypothesis. The developed prototype kit was tested at 2 centers (N=49 and 34) with slight modifications. Simultaneously, the kit was also tested on 55 (N=35 and 20) healthy controls. Our results indicate that otherwise asymptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals were having quantifiable deficit in smell sensation. Interestingly, the variable sensitivity of different odorants was observed in different patients. None of the healthy controls reported difficulty in sensing any of the odorant, whereas, some of healthy controls did misidentify the odorants. Overall, the present study provides a preliminary data that loss in smell sensation for various odorants can be exploited as a quick and affordable screening test to identify infected cases among at risk individuals.
Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.
CTRI Reg. No. CTRI/2020/05/025487
Authors have acknowledged the funding support from National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and technology, Govt. of India.
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Institute Ethics committee, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India
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