A study by Israeli, American, and British researchers has found that loss of smell and taste were the symptoms most indicative of COVID-19.
The researchers used data collected through “digital surveillance platforms” from over 10 million respondents in Israel, the United States, and Britain, including 658,325 who tested positive for coronavirus, a positivity rate of five percent.
“Anosmia/ageusia was the strongest, most consistent symptom associated with a positive COVID-19 test,” the study said, using the respective scientific terms for loss of smell and taste.
The researchers described the symptoms as “omnipresent” among those who reported testing positive for the virus, “supporting its validity as a reliable COVID-19 signal, regardless of the participatory surveillance platform or testing policy.”
They added: “Loss of sense of smell or taste was consistently the strongest predictor of COVID-19 infection across all platforms over time.”
The study, which has not been peer reviewed, was published last month on the medRxiv website. It included researchers from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, Harvard Medical School, University College London, and King’s College London.
The data used in the study was gathered over a four-month period between April and July.
Some infected with COVID-19 have reported a loss of smell and taste months after recovering from the virus.
Along with loss of smell and taste, other common symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, fatigue, fever, and headaches.