Along with fever, cough, and shortness of breath, many COVID-19 patients report a temporary loss of sense of smell. It appears that olfactory deficit is significantly greater in coronavirus patients compared to the loss often experienced during a cold and, less commonly, in influenza (non-COVID-19) patients. In some countries, such as France, a patient who claims to have sudden onset of olfactory loss will be diagnosed as a coronavirus patient--without even being tested.
A similar approach is being considered in the United Kingdom. Based on this data, investigators at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, in collaboration with Israel's Edith Wolfson Medical Center, developed SmellTracker--an online platform that enables self-monitoring of one's sense of smell--in order to detect early signs of COVID-19, or in the absence of other symptoms.
Prof. Noam Sobel's laboratory in Weizmann's Department of Neurobiology specializes in olfactory research. The team previously developed a mathematical model that accurately characterizes a person's unique sense of smell--a kind of individual "olfactory fingerprint."
SmellTracker, based on this algorithm, guides users on how to map their sense of smell using five scents found in the home (spices, vinegar, toothpaste, various scent extracts, peanut...