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University of London sensory experts join scientists and clinicians for global rapid response to Covid-19 and smell loss

Tuesday 7 April 2020


Coronavirus ‘smell loss’ symptom targeted by researchers at the School of Advanced Study’s Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes) to help new global group in pandemic battle. Their first step is to involve people with confirmed or presumed Covid-19 in a detailed survey on smell loss 

Health organisations worldwide have recognised anosmia (loss of smell) as a marker for Covid-19 following a wave of reports from patients and clinicians about rapid onset smell loss at the start of infections – even in the absence of other symptoms. Now sensory scientists and clinicians worldwide have united to form the Global Consortium of Chemosensory Researchers (GCCR) to investigate the, so far, anecdotal connections between the chemical senses and Covid-19. 

CenSes sensory experts on taste and smell, Professor Barry Smith, and Dr Katherine Whitcroft (an ear, nose and throat surgeon) are part of this interdisciplinary group of more than 500 clinicians, neurobiologists, data scientists, cognitive scientists, sensory researchers and technicians from 38 countries. The GCCR will use data collected in an international survey to unravel how the virus presents itself in order to understand how to prevent its spread – which is essential for policymakers. The survey will be translated to more than 20 languages and available to individuals and clinicians on the GCCR website.

Professor Smith and Dr Whitcroft urge anyone who has recently experienced smell loss to complete the survey here.  

Professor Barry Smith, CenSes director and the UK lead for the GCCR, says, ‘So many people around the world are noticing a sudden loss of their sense of smell, unable to detect the scent of hand sanitizer or the aroma of coffee. It’s vital that we find out if people suffering from smell loss, and associated loss of taste, are among the carriers of the virus who show no other symptoms.’

Dr Katherine Whitcroft, who helped develop the questionnaire, is a research fellow at CenSes and member of the UK GCCR Clinical Board. She says ‘It's really important that we find out if smell loss is a good marker for COVID-19, so we can catch it early and help stop the spread of this virus.’

Anyone suddenly experiencing smell loss should self-isolate and report their symptom. 

For further information, please contact Professor Barry Smith ( / Dr Whitcroft (


Notes for editors

  1. The Global Consortium of Chemosensory Researchers (GCCR) leadership team includes: John Hayes, PhD, Penn State, US; Thomas Hummel, MD, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany; Chrissi Kelly, Founder,, UK; Steve Munger, PhD, University of Florida, US; Masha Niv, PhD, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Kathrin Ohla, PhD, Research Center Jülich, Germany; Valentina Parma, PhD, Temple University, US; Danielle Reed, PhD, Monell Chemical Senses Center, US; Maria Veldhuizen, PhD, Mersin University, Turkey
  2. GCCR is a group of global transdisciplinary scientists, clinicians, and patient advocates founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 500 members in 38 countries, the GCCR will harness their reach to conduct and analyse worldwide evidence-based information to combat the spread of COVID-19. Find out more at or follow the GCCR on Twitter @GCChemosensoryR and Facebook