A LOSS of smell is a clearer sign of the coronavirus than a cough or a fever, experts have claimed.
The NHS currently states that the three key symptoms of the coronavirus include a new persistent cough, a high temperature/fever and a loss of taste and smell.
Experts have previously warned that the list of symptoms could be much longer than this and differ from patient to patient – with some even experiencing no symptoms at all.
Yesterday scientists from King’s College London found that people who have been infected with Covid-19 often suffer with a headache and fatigue first.
Using data from the Covid Symptom Tracking App, their “surprising” findings showed that 82 per cent experienced a headache and 72 per cent felt fatigued before classic symptoms emerged.
The experts say that only nine per cent of adults aged between 18 and 65 say they didn’t experience headache or fatigue in the first seven days of Covid – which is when people are at their most infectious.
A new study, by researchers at University College London revealed that four out of five people experiencing a recent loss of smell or taste had tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies.
Of those who tested positive, 40 per cent did not have a cough or fever.
The researchers analysed 590 people who presented with a loss of taste or smell in the last month in order to determine how prevalent antibodies were in their system.
After a consultation, 567 participants with smell and/or taste loss underwent an antibody test.
Of those tested, the researchers found that 78 per cent had Covid antibodies and that patients experiencing a loss of smell were three times more likely to have these antibodies compared to those with a loss of taste.
The researchers said that this suggests that a loss of smell is a “highly specific” symptom of the virus.
Of those who had the virus, 40 per cent had neither a cough or fever – both symptoms that most people have been looking out for when it comes to the virus.
The researchers believe that a loss of smell should be taken into greater consideration when it comes to public health messages around the virus.
At present people are advised to isolate if they have a cough or fever and little focus is put on a loss of smell.
Prof. Rachel Batterham, who led the study, said “Early self-recognition of Covid-19 symptoms by the members of the public, together with rapid self-isolation and PCR testing are vital in order to limit spread of the disease.
“Currently, most countries around the world do not recognise sudden loss of smell as a symptom of Covid-19.
“Our findings suggest that people who notice a loss in their ability to smell everyday house-hold odors such as garlic, coffee and perfumes should self-isolate and seek PCR testing. Loss of sense of smell needs to be recognised globally by policy makers as a key symptom of Covid-19.”
If you are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus you can get a test free on the NHS.
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NHS Test and Trace was launched less than four months ago to help stop the spread of the virus, provide free testing for those who need it, and to find outbreaks before they take hold.
The head of Test and Trace, Dido Harding previously said: “Testing is only effective if you have symptoms, or unless you have been asked to get tested by NHS Test and Trace or by a health professional.
“If you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive then you have to self-isolate. A negative test result won’t change that.
“This is because the virus could still be developing. A test can come back negative during this time even if you have caught coronavirus — and you could still go on to infect other people.”