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Researchers using hard candy in study screening for COVID-19 symptoms

Micah Walker, The Columbus Dispatch on

Published in Health & Fitness

Calling all candy lovers!

Ohio State University researchers are seeking volunteers to help with a "sweet" new study.

Researchers are looking for about 3,000 participants to smell and consume a piece of hard candy every day for 90 days to screen for symptoms of COVID-19.

Participants will log into an app to report which flavor they tasted, as well as the intensity of the taste. If the person reports a drop in either sense, they'll receive a message that they should quarantine and get a COVID-19 test.

According to an Ohio State news release, the study was created to help detect probable positive cases in otherwise asymptomatic people.

Christopher Simons, project co-leader and an associate professor of food science and technology, said people ages eight and older can participate. Other qualifications include not having a positive COVID diagnosis in the past 3 months, no smell loss unrelated to COVID-19, and they must have internet and smartphone access.

 

"Candy is a really great vehicle because one, it's cheap to make," Simons said.

"It's easy to send out, and it really does the job of monitoring somebody's smell and taste."

Simons said he and the two other people on his team have recruited about 500 Ohio State students, staff and faculty members, and are now opening the study to the community.

According to the release, Simons lost his own sense of smell when he and his family tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020 after a trip to Spain. He didn't realize he had lost his smell until he couldn't taste a drink he had when he came back to Columbus.

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