The National Institutes of Health awarded the OSU research team $305,000 to develop simple ways to identify possible cases of the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, but about 86 percent of people positive for the virus report losing their sense of smell.
Using OSU’s method, people will be given eight flavors of hard candy, all of the same color, that they will need to identify.
“With our assessment, you unwrap the candy and smell it to assess orthonasal olfaction, and pop it into your mouth to rate how strong the flavor is, assessing the retronasal component. You also assess sweetness and sourness, which is the taste component. It allows us to tackle three different aspects of flavor perception,” said project co-leader Christopher Simons, associate professor of food science and technology at Ohio State.
During the next phase of the study, researchers plan to follow 2,800 people for 90 days. They will be asked to eat a piece of hard candy each day and report what they smell and taste, as well as the intensity of the flavor.