The use of google trends to investigate the loss of smell related searches during COVID‐19 outbreak
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[Abstract]. Background: Initial reports describing COVID‐19 were dominated by the presence of cough, breathlessness, and fever, anecdotal reports suggested anosmia may also be a manifestation. We sought to use Google Trends (GT) to investigate whether there was a surge in individuals searching for information related to smell loss during the COVID‐19 epidemic in the Italy, Spain, UK, USA, Germany, France, Iran and Netherlands. Methods: GT was used to explore Internet activity related to loss of smell in Italy, Spain, UK, USA, Germany, France, Iran and Netherlands. Spearman rank analysis was performed to correlate loss of smell relative search volumes (RSV) with the increases of daily confirmed cases of COVID‐19 and deaths attributed to disease. As a control event, we also performed analysis of smell‐related searches during the last UK Influenza epidemic of 2009. Results: In all three countries, we observed strong correlations between daily RSVs related to loss of smell, increases of daily COVID‐19+ cases and deaths ranging from 0.633 to 0.952. All correlations were statistically significant (p<0.05). Conclusion: There is a strong correlation between the frequency of searches for smell‐related information and the onset of COVID‐19 infection in Italy, Spain, UK, USA, Germany, France, Iran and Netherlands. We would hypothesise this may relate to a previously under‐recognised symptom.