The European study on the loss of taste (agueusia) and smell (anosmia) in patients infected with COVID-19 is being re-launched to evaluate the effectiveness of cortisone treatments and to study immune defences and inflammatory reactions under other treatments.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Professors Jérôme Lechien and Sven Saussez (ENT specialists at Epicura) and researchers at the University of Mons (UMONS), coordinated the first European study carried out by 33 ENT doctors and researchers in 12 European hospitals. This study looked at 417 patients (263 women and 154 men) with a PCR-proven, non-severe form of COVID-19.
What did this first study reveal?
- 86% of infected patients will experience a loss of smell and 88% will experience a loss of taste.
- These problems occur either before (in 12% of cases), during (65% of cases), or after (23% of cases) the onset of general and/or ENT symptoms.
- 44% of patients recover their sense of smell within 15 days.
The study was subsequently continued in a larger series of patients, with 1420 patients and then with 2013 patients with mild to moderate forms of COVID-19.
Scientific publications confirm that loss of taste and smell will affect 70% of non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients. The researchers also showed that patients with anosmia in March-April 2020 had a more than 90% risk of being COVID-19 positive.
In Belgium, 150 patients with COVID-19 anosmia were included in this first study and have continued to be monitored. 80% of these patients recovered within 2 months after the onset of symptoms. After 6 months, 90% of the patients had recovered (10% remained anosmic).
As a result of the second wave, we decided to re-examine our patients experiencing loss of smell and taste due to COVID-19.
This second phase of the study will aim to evaluate the effectiveness of cortisone (which was not used in March-April 2020) as a treatment for anosmia.
It is now known that cortisone can be administered (it is currently administered for severe forms of COVID-19). The authors therefore wish to evaluate the effectiveness of this treatment by carrying out objective measurements of the sense of smell before and after treatment.
They plan to study the immune defences and inflammatory reactions of patients with a loss of taste and smell. This research, started in the first wave, will be continued and carried out in collaboration with Prof. Arnaud Marchant of the Institute of Immunology (Erasme).
Anyone interested in taking part in the study should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave their contact details (last name, first) name, telephone number and municipality). The authors of the study will contact them to arrange an appointment.
Prof. Jerome Lechien and Prof. Sven Saussez
ENT and UMONS researchers