Coronavirus: New Zealand scientist researching early symptoms

A New Zealand scientist is collecting data on COVID-19 patients to assess early virus symptoms.
A New Zealand scientist is collecting data on COVID-19 patients to assess early virus symptoms. Photo credit: Getty

A New Zealand scientist has joined an international research group which is looking into how coronavirus COVID-19 affects the senses.

Recently it emerged that some coronavirus patients were experiencing a sudden loss of taste and smell during the initial stages of the virus.

Dr Mei Peng, a sensory scientist from the University of Otago's Department of Food Science has joined a consortium of scientists to develop self-screening assessments to help people detect early signs of COVID-19.

The consortium was started by American researchers and now has 273 researchers from more than 20 countries.

Researcher Dr Mei Peng is looking into the early symptoms of COVID-19.
Researcher Dr Mei Peng is looking into the early symptoms of COVID-19. Photo credit: Supplied

Dr Peng says she joined the research because she is interested in the overlap between human senses, brain function and health.

"In the current circumstances, my team is fortunate to have the skills to help with scientific analysis of human sensory data.

"This epidemic is affecting us all, and it's crucial that we all help in any way we can."

Dr Peng is now looking for people who have been infected or exposed to the virus to fill out an online questionnaire about their senses over a few days.

The data will then be collected worldwide and assessed and compared against region and time.

"This is a simple test, but from the huge pool of global data we will look for consistencies of infected people's experiences, which could potentially help others identify if they have the virus, and enable isolating measures to be put in place sooner to limit their chances of infecting others," she says.

Dr Peng is evaluating data from New Zealand for the study and the questionnaire is expected to be distributed in the next two weeks.

Anyone that wishes to take part in the study can contact Dr Peng at mei.peng@otago.ac.nz.  

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz