Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in people with an acute loss in their sense of smell and/or taste in a community-based population in London, UK: An observational cohort study

Autoři: Janine Makaronidis aff001;  Jessica Mok aff001;  Nyaladzi Balogun aff001;  Cormac G. Magee aff001;  Rumana Z. Omar aff004;  Alisia Carnemolla aff001;  Rachel L. Batterham aff001
Působiště autorů: UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom aff001;  Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom aff002;  National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom aff003;  Department of Statistical Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in people with an acute loss in their sense of smell and/or taste in a community-based population in London, UK: An observational cohort study. PLoS Med 17(10): e32767. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003358
Kategorie: Research Article



Loss of smell and taste are commonly reported symptoms associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); however, the seroprevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies in people with acute loss of smell and/or taste is unknown. The study aimed to determine the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a community-based population with acute loss of smell and/or taste and to compare the frequency of COVID-19 associated symptoms in participants with and without SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. It also evaluated whether smell or taste loss are indicative of COVID-19 infection.

Methods and findings

Text messages, sent via primary care centers in London, United Kingdom, invited people with loss of smell and/or taste in the preceding month, to participate. Recruitment took place between 23 April 2020 and 14 May 2020. A total of 590 participants enrolled via a web-based platform and responded to questions about loss of smell and taste and other COVID-19–related symptoms. Mean age was 39.4 years (SD ± 12.0) and 69.1% (n = 392) of participants were female. A total of 567 (96.1%) had a telemedicine consultation during which their COVID-19–related symptoms were verified and a lateral flow immunoassay test that detected SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies was undertaken under medical supervision. A total of 77.6% of 567 participants with acute smell and/or taste loss had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies; of these, 39.8% (n = 175) had neither cough nor fever. New loss of smell was more prevalent in participants with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, compared with those without antibodies (93.4% versus 78.7%, p < 0.001), whereas taste loss was equally prevalent (90.2% versus 89.0%, p = 0.738). Seropositivity for SARS-CoV-2 was 3 times more likely in participants with smell loss (OR 2.86; 95% CI 1.27–6.36; p < 0.001) compared with those with taste loss. The limitations of this study are the lack of a general population control group, the self-reported nature of the smell and taste changes, and the fact our methodology does not take into account the possibility that a population subset may not seroconvert to develop SARS-CoV-2 antibodies post-COVID-19.


Our findings suggest that recent loss of smell is a highly specific COVID-19 symptom and should be considered more generally in guiding case isolation, testing, and treatment of COVID-19.

Trials registration NCT04377815

Klíčová slova:

Antibodies – Coughing – COVID 19 – SARS CoV 2 – Sensory perception – Smell – Taste – Virus testing


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