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The ZOE Covid app study at King’s College London teamed up with The University of Maryland Facebook COVID-19 Symptom Survey and the Israel Corona Study to compare data from around the world

One Covid symptom has been found to be the most reliable indicator you’ve got the virus, and it’s not a persistent cough or a high fever, say experts.

Researchers from the ZOE Covid app study at King’s College London, have found the most sure fire way to know whether you are positive is the loss of taste or smell.

Someone with either of these symptoms, in fact, is 17 times more likely to have contracted coronavirus than someone without, the team claims.

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Early in the pandemic, the app used symptom reports and testing from millions of contributors to confirm anosmia (loss of smell), fever and cough could predict someone had the virus without even being tested.

And months later, the latest research still shows watching out for changes to smell and taste are still key, especially if you don’t have access to a test.

The team has been working alongside scientists in Israel and the US to go back over data from the first wave and compare it with other foreign community science platforms to see if the same symptoms hold up in different populations.

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ZOE data combined with that from The University of Maryland Facebook COVID-19 Symptom Survey and the Israel Corona Study.

Each platform is different but all ask users to self-report symptoms and test results.

They sifted through reports of more than 10 million respondents from April 1, 2020, to July 31, 2020, and analysed over half a million Covid tests.

And found loss of smell or loss of taste (ageusia) was consistently the strongest predictor of a Covid infection across all platforms, regions, and populations.

“What’s more, loss of smell or taste remained the best predictor of a positive test result regardless of a person’s age, sex, or illness severity,” a ZOE statement said.

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“However, the team’s analysis also showed that having a high temperature (fever) and lung symptoms like shortness of breath or coughing were also strongly associated with having a positive COVID test.

“The analysis confirms our findings early in the pandemic that loss of smell is a strong predictor of a COVID infection.

“Thanks to these findings, anosmia was added to the list of official symptoms to get an NHS PCR test, alongside cough and fever.”

The results of the study are in a paper published in the Lancet Digital Health.


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