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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. 2020 10; 17(10):e1003358.PM

Abstract

BACKGROUND

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04377815.

Authors+Show Affiliations

UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.Department of Statistical Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom.UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.UCL Centre for Obesity Research, Division of Medicine, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom. National Institute of Health Research, UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Observational Study
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

33001967

Citation

Makaronidis, Janine, et al. "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 Medicine, vol. 17, no. 10, 2020, pp. e1003358.
Makaronidis J, Mok J, Balogun N, et al. 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. 2020;17(10):e1003358.
Makaronidis, J., Mok, J., Balogun, N., Magee, C. G., Omar, R. Z., Carnemolla, A., & Batterham, R. L. (2020). 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 Medicine, 17(10), e1003358. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003358
Makaronidis J, et al. 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. 2020;17(10):e1003358. PubMed PMID: 33001967.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - 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. AU - Makaronidis,Janine, AU - Mok,Jessica, AU - Balogun,Nyaladzi, AU - Magee,Cormac G, AU - Omar,Rumana Z, AU - Carnemolla,Alisia, AU - Batterham,Rachel L, Y1 - 2020/10/01/ PY - 2020/06/10/received PY - 2020/08/26/accepted PY - 2020/10/1/entrez PY - 2020/10/2/pubmed PY - 2020/10/8/medline SP - e1003358 EP - e1003358 JF - PLoS medicine JO - PLoS Med VL - 17 IS - 10 N2 - BACKGROUND: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04377815. SN - 1549-1676 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/33001967/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_ L2 - https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003358 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -