AChems Press Release

First Results Reported from Global Survey Investigating COVID-19 Effects on Smell and Taste

TORONTO, May 26, 2020 — Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) members around the world collaborating to understand the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on smell and taste function are reporting on their findings.

Smell and taste are crucial to daily function, from food choice to detection of environmental dangers. Chemosensory performance can greatly impact health and disease outcomes and is known to be impacted by some illnesses.

COVID-19 patients around the world have been reporting smell and/or taste disruption with infection. Indeed, many countries’ public health bodies have recently updated official symptom lists to include taste and/or smell loss, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html) and the World Health Organization (WHO; https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3).

As leaders of the Global Consortium of Chemosensory Research (GCCR), AChemS member-researchers have been investigating the reported effects of COVID-19 on the smell and taste senses of its sufferers. Initial results from more than 4,000 COVID-19 patients surveyed in over 40 countries confirm significant reductions in smell and taste, as well as chemesthesis - a system separate from taste and smell through which we sense things like heat of chili peppers and the cooling of menthol.

In the publicly posted preprint of the report, entitled ‘More than just smell - COVID-19 is associated with severe impairment of smell, taste, and chemesthesis’ (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.04.20090902v2), also reports the novel finding that, for most patients, chemosensory losses experienced could not be accounted for by nasal obstruction, which is common in illnesses that cause infection in the respiratory system.

The GCCR continues to survey COVID-19 patients from around the world in an ongoing effort to understand the impact of infection on chemosensory function in patients and to inform clinical consideration of disease manifestation and presentation. An informational video outlining the background and scope of the GCCR and easy instructions for patient participation has also been made available (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53GEN4bHmm4).

For more information on the GCCR, please visit:
AChemS member contact/lead: Valentina Parma, PhD
[email protected]

For general media inquiries regarding AChemS, please contact Martha Bajec, PhD, ([email protected]) Chair, Public Information and Affairs Committee.