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New COVID-19 testing could be a whiff away

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TEMPE, Ariz. (KPNX) — ASU researchers are sniffing out new ways to test for the coronavirus. The cheap, at-home quiz can help people figure out if they're developing symptoms. You simply scratch, sniff and repeat.

"In mild COVID cases, it's an 86% chance of smell loss," Dr. Rick Gerkin said.

ASU researchers like, Dr. Gerkin are rapidly developing different kinds of COVID-19 testing options. The latest is a smell test is much like a scratch and sniff card. However, with the loss of smell being a symptom, this inexpensive test can be very telling. ASU researchers are partnering with the National Institute of Health to produce the new smell test using basic technology.

"These are cheap, the results are instantaneous and because they're accessible to anyone without advanced technology, this is something we can really widely distribute, a new kind of test regime," he added.

The test is a lot like an eye chart, Dr. Gerkin says, you sniff different concentrations of scents to see how week or strong your sense is.

"People often don't notice smell loss, some people think they have smell loss but they don't when you measure it so we wanted to come up with something more objective, something that can be more like a diagnostic for COVID," Dr. Gerkin added.

He says, this at-home alternative is an option with an instant result, unlike COVID-19 testing sites.

"You have to go somewhere to get it, you have to take the time to do that then you have to wait for the results and that can take several day," he said.

Dr. Gerkin says, ASU's smell tests should be available by late spring and while it's not the sole solution, it's a solid step forward.

"If you do have smell loss, you've noticed yourself you should absolutely go get a viral test, we would recommend that even if you've had a smell test," Dr. Gerkin added.

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