A whiff of hope: smell test detects Covid-19 early warning

The whole world has felt ambushed by COVID-19, but it’s only recently that experts have realised that the sense of smell is one of the first things to be attacked – well before any other symptoms present themselves. Now, IFF (International Flavors & Fragrance) have helped develop a smell-test to take at home, donating scents from their living technology collection to aid the testing process…

Scientists now agree that the loss of smell represents an early warning sign of Coronavirus. Anosmia (smell loss) and dysgeusia (taste loss) are extremely common symptoms that may appear before any other symptoms to suspect a patient might be infected. Researchers developing the pioneering (and self-administered) test say that ‘early awareness of exposure may trigger testing sooner and improve the overall accuracy of testing for COVID-19.’ And as we now know – the earlier a possible infection can be detected and the patient made aware, the fewer other members of the public could be infected.

‘IFF has a long history of developing innovative solutions for a multitude of global challenges,’ commented Dr. Gregory Yep, IFF’s Chief Scientific and Sustaina­bility Officer. ‘Our ongoing collaboration with Dr. Albers underscores our commitment to do more good for people and planet, and I hope our donation can help contribute to a solution for this pandemic.’

The Blavatnik Sensory Disorders Fund at Harvard Medical School is enabling the building of apps that allow long-distance symptom tracking and smell testing from home, and up to 400 patients at MGH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Spaulding Rehabiliation Hospital will be participating in their first round of testing.

After receiving a small and simple to use scratch card, the test will then be conducted on a patient’s own phone app (or via a tablet, or computer.) During the test, participants will answer a series of questions about possible COVID-19 symptoms and loss of smell and/or taste. By distributing this free smell test, the hopes are that presymptomatic detection of anosmia will trigger full testing and prompt patients to self-isolate – even if no other symptoms are present.

With the recent lowering of social distancing measures, many experts fear a second (and possibly even larger) spike in the numbers of new COVID-19 infections, it behoves us to be extra cautious and to be forewarned, as they say, is forearmed.

Dr. Mark Albers, an MGH neurologist specialising in memory and olfactory disorders, was one of the leading experts who wanted to set up the test, explaining that, ‘There is so much we don’t know about COVID-19, but the research shows that loss of smell and taste play a prominent role in identifying possible patients with the virus,’

‘If we can provide reliable self-administered tests to people and health care workers,’ Dr. Albers continued, ‘we may be able to slow the spread of the disease in the future and chart recovery of smell function, which may be helpful to determine when it is safe to reengage after having the COVID infection.’

Fascinating, isn’t it, how we are only now discovering how many medical conditions have early warning signs reflected in a loss of smell? Perhaps now, those scientists who were toiling away studying the sense of smell – which for so many years was disregarded as insignificant – will be taken more seriously; and (we hope – perhaps naively) will be given the funding they so desperately need.

By Suzy Nightingale

HERO Cologne created to honour frontline workers

Ninteen Symrise perfumers have come together to create HERO Cologne, donated to frontline and key workers dealing with the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Each perfumer added one ingredient to the fragrance,with each one chosen specifically to contribute to the well-being of those who wear it, Symrise say.

‘It has been shown that the addition of fragrance to our daily essentials increases our quality of life,’ explains Ricardo Omori, Senior Vice President of global fine fragrance. ‘In the current situation, we want to do our part to lift the mood of our heroes with HERO and to try to give positive feelings to their lives. In doing so, we show our appreciation for these thousands of everyday heroes who are working hard for us with their dedicated efforts.’

Developed to recognise the incredible efforts of the frontline workers, and donated directly to them in order, hopefully, to provide some moments of scented enjoyment, it’s interesting to see which (sustainably sourced) ingredients they chose for this unisex scent.

‘It interweaves ingredients from traditional eau de cologne and brings in contemporary notes like Ambrostar, a Symrise captive, musk and vanilla. The result presents an invigorating and supportive fragrance that combines energy and comfort.

The top note exudes a composition of Mandarin from Madagascar, bergamot with a boost of peppermint and ginger. The heart contains warm notes of ambrette seeds, orris and rose. The base note gives the fragrance fullness and modernity with guaiac wood, sandalwood, vetiver from Madagascar, cypress and renewable vanillin.’

 

 

I was particularly fascinated to see the mention of vanillin in the base – having previously researched a story and discovering that many scientific tests have proven the calming powers of vanillin. It used to be assumed this was because the scent reminded people of mother’s milk or sweet cakes, but those tests proved it significantly reduced the ‘startle reflex’ even in animals that don’t suckle. It’s since gone on to be trialled in fragrancing particularly high-stress areas of hospitals, such as MRI and CT Scanning rooms, and for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

How wonderful it’s been to see the way beauty and fragrance companies large and small have responded to the crisis, trying to do their bit even as they wonder if they will be able to survive.

‘We believe in the power of scent to touch our senses, our soul and the world,’ says Omori. ‘That’s why we’ve developed a fragrance for all the heroes who, with their tireless and selfless efforts, are helping to fight the coronavirus crisis. HERO is our small token of thanks for the work they do.’

And we’d also like to thank every single one of you out there – medical workers, delivery people and essential shop staff, the beauty industry who so quickly changed their output to hand sanitiser or donated supplies to food and beauty banks – to everyone who had their own struggles at home, shielding the vulnerable, coping with home-schooling kids while trying to work or worrying about not having a job to go to anymore – you are all heroes in our eyes, and we hope you’ve found a calming/uplifting scent of your own to help you get through.

Keep your eyes on our social media next week as we have a new campaign starting, asking just this: what fragrances have helped you, lately…? And there’s some wonderfully scented prizes in store…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Important! Crowdsourcing Covid-19 symptom survey needs YOUR help

Perfumer and brand founder Christophe Laudamiel has joined the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research in calling attention to the loss of smell as a vital clue in the on-going fight against the Covid-19 virus.

Laudamiel writes:

‘An incredibly surprising twist to the pandemic is that a unique symptom of COVID-19, even among those who barely feel any other symptoms, is an abrupt and total loss of the sense of smell. That loss lasts for about a week and is scary enough for the public to realise the importance of their noses…’

As we previously reported back when #lockdown first began, this loss of smell is often the only symptom noticed, and it’s incredibly important to tell your doctor about this, and take actions, because otherwise you may be unwittingly spreading the virus.

Now, the scientific community are working together – and asking for YOUR help – to create a global database of anonymously submitted symptoms, so that the spread of all respitory illnesses / loss of smell type smptoms can be tracked. It is vital to have a global databse of this information for any true picture, and for work to be done on creating a possible vaccine or other preventative measures to be taken.

The Global Consortium consists of open-science contributors: transdisciplinary scientists, clinicians, and patient advocates from all over the world, and their advice is:

– If you lose your sense of smell, call your doctor and get tested. This will potentially save your life, and the lives of those near you.

– If you have, or think you have suffered from Covid-19, or even from a cold or ‘Flu in 2020, we ask that you very crucially ANSWER THIS OFFICIAL PUBLIC-SAFETY SURVEY

Says Laudamiel: ‘The survey will take about ten minutes and is totally anonymous, hosted on an open Penn State University server and ccomplies to EU rules and global ethic standards.

English, Spanish, French, German and 6 other languages are available, 20 more languages to come very soon.

Please take it seriously. The results will be published and immediately utilised by health authorities, doctors, patients and olfactory workers worldwide.’

By taking just a few minutes to report any symptoms you have – you will be doing the whole world a favour. And apart from anything else, it will be fascinating for scientists to see how widespread the loss of of the sense of smell is on a global scale. This is an issue that’s been too long ignored or not taken particularly seriously, and those who have suffered smell loss can tell you how utterly devastating this can be, quite apart from the fact that smell loss is already recognised as a possible early warning sign of Alzheimers and now, known to be a symptom of Covid-19 too…

By Suzy Nightingale

#StayHome with Acqua di Parma: donating 100% of online revenue to charity

Acqua di Parma are launching a #StayHome charity campaign to support the fight against COVID-19. Throughout the month of April, 100% of e-commerce revenues generated by sales of the Home Collection, Barbiere and Personal Care products will be donated to support initiatives against the corona crisis.

In these stressful and uncertain times, how heartening it has been to see brands, both big and small, stepping up to provide support, making hand-santisisers, donating products and now, with Acqua di Parma’s #StayHome campaign donating an incredible 100% of their online profits to help their home country, which has been hit so hard by this pandemic.

 

 

Laura Burdese, CEO of Acqua di Parma comments that, ‘In these difficult times of suffering and strife that grip Italy so severely, it is natural and right for Acqua di Parma to make a strong gesture of solidarity. With the #StayHome campaign, we can do our part and demonstrate the love that the Maison has for our mother country.’

Explaining further why this campaign was so important to them, Laura continues: ‘Our solidarity campaign is a way to provide tangible support, be it emotional or economic, to Italy in this time of need so that in dealing with this emergency, we can preserve what we love most about our country: Italian art, nature and culture will continue to be given and shared across the globe’

 

 

Acqua di Parma invite you to help support this campaign by sharing social media posts – perhaps of cosy, scented spaces you have created? – and tagging @acquadiparma_official and #StayHome. What’s more, during this time, all Acqua di Parma online orders have FREE delivery, so even more excuse to indulge, delight and comfort yourself with scent at home…

By Suzy Nightingale

Covid-19 and loss of smell: IMPORTANT news for noses

We know that there are many rumours swirling around the coronavirus, but we felt that this was worth circulating to a community which is highly tuned into its sense of smell.

Top ENT specialists have pinpointed loss of sense of smell – a.k.a. ‘anosmia’ – as a potential symptom of those carrying the Covid-19 virus, who are otherwise asymptomatic.

Previously, we were told to look out for symptoms such as a high fever and a new continuous, dry cough – and for people with those symptoms to self-isolate within their own homes. Scientists suspected, however, that the wide-spreading of the virus has, in part, been due to otherwise seemingly healthy people going out and about – unaware that they are carrying the virus and unwittingly infecting others.

The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK) published a statement that these anosmia symptoms had been found among ‘…a number of patients in the “absence of other symptoms”‘.

Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, and Professor Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, remarked in the joint statement, published online, that they’d noticed a significant and sudden rise ‘in cases of isolated anosmia’ — total or partial smell loss — in the UK, US, France and northern Italy.

The statement goes on to remark that they ‘…think these patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of Covid-19,’ commenting that, ‘Unfortunately, these patients do not meet current criteria for testing or self isolation.’

As fragrance-lovers we are generally more in-tune with our noses and sense of smell than the majority of people, simply due to the fact we spend so much time focussing on scent, concentrating on how it smells. (And, of course, lavishly spraying ourselves in our favourites and describing them to others.) Therefore, we are perhaps in a better place to notice a loss of smell more immediately. And therefore – more importantly – to act on it.

Although current government guidelines on self-isolating with signs of coronavirus do not yet specifically mention the loss of smell as a symptom, it is worth pointing out that the advice DOES state that we should self-isolate and take extra precautions if you are displaying any symptoms at all, ‘however mild’.

What to do if you have recently lost your sense of smell:

As of last night, the government have enforced a complete ‘lockdown’ within the U.K. – a precaution that the French authorities undertook a week ago. Now that the ENT specialists have made the link between a loss of smell as a clue you may be a carrier of Covid-19, even if you don’t have a high temperature or a cough, if you live with other people, the advice is that you should take extra precations and self-isolate as much as possible within your own house.

This means not sharing bathrooms or kitchens, if at all possible. Where only one bathroom or kitchen is available, there are other measures you can take to prevent the spread of infection – such as not sharing towels or tea-towels, and information about how to thoroughly clean your shared living space.

Currently it seems the majority of those who did lose their sense of smell due to carrying the Covid-19 virus are reporting that they have fully recovered their sense of smell after around a month (much quicker in the case of one sufferer we know personally), though these are early days and much has still to be learned. Fifth Sense, a U.K. charity for those with smell and taste disorders, also have a useful article on their website regarding Covid-19 and the loss of smell.

Another source of contact for those who have lost their sense of smell – through a virus, due to medication or from birth – is the recently established charity AbScent which has lots of great advice on their website.

These are scary things to read, indeed, and of course worrying times for us all. But there is good news coming out of China, for those who are recovering and for whom life is slowly going back to (an albeit new) kind of normality. This has only been achieved by everyone working together, following the guidelines and self-isolating.

As difficult as this is, we CAN get through this together, and we shall emerge with a new sense of just how important it is to talk to our neighbours, to check in on the most vulnerable within our communities, and to grasp every moment of freedom and health with joy. Even if that’s only meeting a friend for coffee or going to an art gallery or literally stopping to smell the roses. How we shall treasure those moments anew when we can do them, freely, again.

And we shall do, we shall.

Stay safe, dear fragrant friends.

By Suzy Nightingale

Miller Harris shout-out for brand’s soap donations

Miller Harris have announced they’re donating hand wash, hand lotion and soaps to those most vulnerable in the UK – and are calling for other brands to join in if they can

In these unprecedented and troubling times, amidst much worry, people ARE doing good things. We’ve already highlighted how some beauty and fragrance brands are helping, and will be showcasing some more next week. But right now we want to join Miller Harris and their shout-out for brands to donate soap, where possible, to help the most vulnerable in our community.

We’ve just spoken to Sarah Rotheram, CEO of Miller Harris, and she explained this felt like a positive thing they could give back to the community – to ensure those most vulnerable – the elderly and the poor – can wash their hands. We know that soap and water and good hand hygeine can destroy the virus. We’ve been contacting brands ourselves, but we’d also like to post this shout-out so that if there are ANY brands out there who’d like to get involved…

In a letter sent to fellow brands, Sarah says:

‘Dear Friends and Colleagues.

LETS GET SOAP MOVING!

As the apprehension around the COVID-19 virus spreads globally, I felt compelled to write and try to help in anyway that we possibly can. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected, our friends in China, Asia and Italy who have been affected for some time, and everyone globally now feeling the shock of the virus.

We do believe that the pause on the world is here for a reason and to remind us we are ‘all one world’ and together is how we will overcome this pandemic. As you all know, I am a huge optimist and there will be a silver lining as the world emerges from this a different place.

We are seeing huge acts of kindness amongst the gloom of the news, and it is these acts of kindness that bring us hope. As a small business we are aware that the next few weeks and months will be a huge challenge for us and all of our staff and partners and we will look to work together through this crisis.

We are partnering with Age UK to address the demand in the most at-risk sector and whilst we await more detailed stats, what we do want to do is urge other businesses who can help, to act now.

As a brand we will be donating our entire stock of hand wash, hand lotion and soaps to those most vulnerable in the UK. Our soaps will leave the warehouse tomorrow to reach the elderly and we are asking other brands to join us. It will be a sin if soap is sat in warehouses rather than reaching people where it can be of some help. The most venerable in our society will be the most affected and the best advice is to wash your hands regularly, so we need to donate what we can and get soap to those in need.

If others join us we can make a much bigger difference.

Our larger beauty colleagues are generously giving to hospitals and assisting governments and often as a small brand we can feel that it is hard to make a difference. Collectively we can have a huge impact.

We are a small brand so have 11,000 units, but I am writing to other small businesses to request if you can join us in making a positive difference to lives. Its time to give back and I think as a community we can make a difference.

This week we have already donated soaps and shower gels to food banks, as they are also facing shortages of supplies as people stock pile. They need support. Again, I am writing to see if you can possibly spare some soap to these organizations that are caring for those in need in these uncertain times.

Please join me in donating generously, and lets get the soap moving. If you are able to help please get in contact with Emma, Laurel and SJ via marketing@millerharris.com who will share logistical information and link you with Age UK.

Best wishes,

Sarah Rotheram
CEO, Miller Harris

If you are a small brand with stock to spare, or know of brands that might be able to get involved, please do share this information with them. Let’s all pull together in this troubling time and make sure the most vulnerable are helped.

By Suzy Nightingale