The nose knows: Researchers developing scratch, sniff COVID test

(WHDH) — Researchers from Harvard and Yale are working to develop a new way to test for the coronavirus.

With the help of a company called u-Smell-it, the researchers are developing a low-cost scratch and sniff method to test for the virus.

Joining researchers on their mission, University of Colorado Professor Dan Larremore said, “we started thinking a little bit more about other ways where we can take the same idea of repeated screening tests and get information into people’s hands more quickly.”

Loss of taste and smell is one of the symptoms many people report when they contract COVID-19.

“We know that we need to test frequently in order to identify people early when the information that they can be infectious can still be valuable to them,” Larremore said.

The test is comprised of a number of scratch and sniff panels that the patient must identify through multiple-choice questions.

“At the end and you won’t be told which ones you got wrong,” Larremore said, “Instead, you’ll just get an overall score of did you smell things correctly or did you miss some.

Developers said it is an effective method in determining if someone has a virus because the nose knows.

“It turns out only 50 percent of people with COVID will say they lost their sense of smell. But, if they give you one of these active standardized tests where they actually need to say what the smells are and you get a grade, the prevalence of the symptom goes from 50 percent up to 80 percent when the tests are used,” Larremore said.

The test will cost 50 cents and developers plan to team up with charitable organizations to purchase tests for underprivileged areas.

They said they hope to ramp up production soon and manufacture up to 50,000 tests a day.

 

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