Study of olfaction-related Internet queries to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures against COVID-19


Momynaliev K.T., Khoroshun D.K., Akimkin V.G.

Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being, Moscow, Russia
Objective. To assess the utility of olfaction-related Internet queries for evaluating the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures against COVID-19.
Materials and methods. Yandex users’ olfaction-related queries were weekly analyzed in the Bryansk, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Moscow, Ryazan, Smolensk, and Tula Regions and in Moscow in March 16, 2020, to February 21, 2021.
Results. A strong temporal relationship was shown between the self-assessment of odor changes (queries involving the word «olfaction», for example, «loss of smell») and the new COVID-19 cases in the regions of Central Russia. A correlation was found between the number of olfaction-related queries and the new COVID-19 cases: it was very high for Moscow (r = 0.96), high for the Bryansk and Ryazan Regions (r > 0.70), and moderate for the Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Moscow, Smolensk, and Tula Regions (0.5 < r < 0.7). The observed peaks of queries were unrelated to the seasonal exacerbation of allergy in Russia in the previous years.
Conclusion. The increased sudden interest in olfaction among the Internet users can be regarded as a valuable minimally invasive indicator of the spread of coronavirus in the population, as well as for the evaluation of the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures against COVID-19.


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About the Autors

Kuvat Т. Momynaliev, ВD, Associate Professor, Leading Researcher, ON Department, Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being, Moscow, Russia;;
Dimash K, Khoroshun, Сonsultant, ON Department, Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being, Moscow, Russia;;
Professor Vasiliy G. Akimkin, MD, Аcademician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director, Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being, Moscow, Russia; \; 0000-0003-4228-9044

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