Using SCENTinel® to predict SARS-CoV-2 infection: insights from a community sample during dominance of Delta and Omicron variants

Stephanie R. Hunter, Anne Zola, Emily Ho, Michael Anthony Kallen, Edith Adjei-Danquah, Chad Achenbach, G. Randy Smith, Richard Gershon, Danielle R. Reed, Benjamin David Schalet, Valentina Parma, Pamela H. Dalton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Based on a large body of previous research suggesting that smell loss was a predictor of COVID-19, we investigated the ability of SCENTinel®, a newly validated rapid olfactory test that assesses odor detection, intensity, and identification, to predict SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community sample. Methods: Between April 5, 2021, and July 5, 2022, 1,979 individuals took one SCENTinel® test, completed at least one physician-ordered SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, and endorsed a list of self-reported symptoms. Results: Among the of SCENTinel® subtests, the self-rated odor intensity score, especially when dichotomized using a previously established threshold, was the strongest predictor of SARS-CoV-2 infection. SCENTinel® had high specificity and negative predictive value, indicating that those who passed SCENTinel® likely did not have a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Predictability of the SCENTinel® performance was stronger when the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant was dominant rather than when the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was dominant. Additionally, SCENTinel® predicted SARS-CoV-2 positivity better than using a self-reported symptom checklist alone. Discussion: These results indicate that SCENTinel® is a rapid assessment tool that can be used for population-level screening to monitor abrupt changes in olfactory function, and to evaluate spread of viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 that often have smell loss as a symptom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1322797
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - 2024


  • anosmia
  • hyposmia
  • olfaction
  • pandemic
  • prediction
  • testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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