The purpose of the kit is to early test potential patients with coronavirus inexpensively, by the symptom of loss of smell. It should first be deployed in the Alpes-Maritimes. 

Researchers from the University of Côte d'Azur (UCA) conducted a participatory science experiment on Thursday with passers-by from Nice to calibrate a future early, rapid and inexpensive test of Covid-19 by the symptom of loss of 'smell.

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"Support other symptoms"

"Cinnamon? Citrus? Intensity from zero to six?" Place Massena, a hundred onlookers inhaled strips of odorised paper and answered a short questionnaire developed by the team associating the CHU of Nice and the Edhec business school. The kit, the manufacture of which combines the Grasse company Carestia, which develops technologies for impregnating paper strips, should first be deployed in the Alpes-Maritimes.

"The goal is to support other symptoms, temperature or headache. With the big difference that loss of smell, partial or total anosmia, is early and present in 60 to 80% of subjects by the virus, "Pr Serge Antonczaak, chemist at UCA, told AFP.

Apple vinegar test in South Korea

In South Korea, soldiers were tested upon entering military camps by smelling apple vinegar. "Apple vinegar was easy to use in the absence of other means but it also stimulates the sense of pain, and it is therefore less discriminating" than the formulas developed in Nice, said Jérémie Topin, master of conference specializing in olfaction chemistry at UCA.


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The project, beyond the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, could have other outlets since the loss of olfaction occurs in many other pathologies. Alzheimer's patients, for example, do not always pay attention and often consult only for a forgotten pan on the gas or lost car keys. However, emphasizes Dr. Renaud David, associated with research at the chemistry institute of the UCA, "the loss of perception of odors is a symptom of neurodegenerative diseases".

This symptom is even "very early and the area of ​​olfaction in the brain is very close to that of memory", adds this psychiatrist who also conducts research on the use of certain fragrances to soothe these elderly people.