NSLHD News May 22

Research to confirm if sense of smell linked to COVID-19 For many people with

way to combine our past expertise with new research collaborations to help solve COVID-19 related health problems for our patients and the general community.” The study team is looking to recruit patients who’ve tested positive to COVID-19 and are being monitored through the Royal North Shore Virtual Hospital or have been admitted to RNSH with mild- moderate COVID-19 illness. Members of the community who do not have Covid are also needed as part of the control group for the research. The study will involve a structured questionnaire followed by the smell test, based on the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell Identification Kit. Co-ordinated research response The study is part of a broader research approach by the Northern Sydney Local Health District COVID-19 Clinical Research Group. All major specialist disciplines are represented in the group, taking advantage of the breadth of knowledge across the health campus. Associate Professor Clifton- Bligh said we formed the group because we saw a clear need to co-ordinate our clinical research response to the COVID-19 crisis. “Our clinical researchers and scientists saw this as a way to harness our varied interests and skills in a strategic, whole- of-health service response,” he said. “The rapid evolution of the pandemic has led to new research collaborations and

COVID-19, the first sign they had the virus was a loss in their sense of smell. Now a team from the Kolling Institute and Royal North Shore Hospital will investigate the correlation between the virus and early symptoms. Study lead Associate Professor Rory Clifton- Bligh said a loss of smell has emerged as a common symptom of COVID-19 infection, but the current data is relying on subjective, self- reported information. “This study will objectively assess loss of smell with people who have tested positive to COVID-19,” said Associate Professor Clifton- Bligh, head of Endocrinology at RNSH. “We will be using a validated test kit for smell identification. Depending upon our findings, it may then be possible to develop a rapid screening test. “It’s really pleasing to be involved in such an important study, and we hope it will assist early diagnosis of the virus and future treatment options. “We hope it will potentially help a large number people across Australia.” Head of Neurogenetics and Executive Director of the Kolling Institute Professor Carolyn Sue will form part of the research team. “We have used this smell test before to assess patients with other medical conditions and found it easy to do and interpret,” she said. “This new application of the smell test is an exciting

Associate Professor Rory Clifton-Bligh

WWW.NSLHD.HEALTH.NSW.GOV.AU 11 disease specialist Dr Bernard Hudson, Professor Carolyn Sue, Professor Bruce Robinson and Professor Carol Pollock. Members of the Northern Sydney Local Health District COVID-19 Clinical Research Group include infectious partnerships, and innovative approaches to clinical trials for COVID patients and healthcare workers.” The six broad areas of focus include: • Emerging treatments for COVID-19 • Prevention of COVID-19 in high risk groups, including health care workers • Biomarker research for diagnosis and prognosis • Epidemiology of disease outbreaks in Northern Sydney Local Health District • Health services data collection and research • The impact on non- COVID-19 related activities (both in healthcare and in research)

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