Healthcare developer and manufacturer Virocule has teamed up with distributor Septrion to bring the Anosmic smell tester to cottage country, allowing Muskoka residents to screen for COVID-19 anywhere at any time for less than 55 cents per test.
To use the smell tester, a person simply needs to spray the product on their wrist or a tissue and sniff from two inches away. The user records the strength of the smell from one to 10 each day and if there is partial or full loss of smell, they know to seek out a COVID test. The product is made to create a consistent smell that “stimulates a range of olfactory nerves,” making it much more effective to test smell dysfunction than everyday products like coffee or perfume. Anosmic is made in Canada by Canadians with all-natural Canadian ingredients. It was recently featured in the International Journal of Science Research and has been nominated for an Edison Award, which recognizes innovations that bring positive change to the world.
Michael Bryant, president of Virocule, said the product can take away a lot of stress by showing users whether or not they have smell dysfunction, a common symptom of COVID-19.
“Our product is actually even more effective than the temperature testing,” Bryant said. “That’s one of the big things with it is that it’s more accurate because sometimes people just take a Tylenol if they aren’t feeling well, but they could still be symptomatic and walk right into your home or your business.”
Anosmia, also known as loss of smell, is one of the most common and earliest indications of COVID-19. Studies suggest most COVID patients experience some loss of smell, making it more effective for screening than a fever or cough.
“In clinical studies with 211 participants, Anosmic was shown to have high accuracy of over 90 per cent in screening for a COVID-19 infection (91% sensitivity and 97% specificity at a 95% confidence interval),” said Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Deven Sandhu. “Research by others has shown that smell loss is a much more specific indicator of a COVID-19 infection than elevated temperature/fever. The nasal passage is a principal gateway for the coronavirus to enter the body. That may be a reason why loss of smell may be an early indicator of an infection.”
Bryant first thought of the idea for Anosmic back in 2003 when he got stuck in Hong Kong during the SARS pandemic. An officer from the World Health Organization had just died and panic was starting to set in across Asia.
“I kept thinking during the process that there’s got to be a way that we should be able to test these upper respiratory viruses and illnesses so that any traveller or anybody can be screened immediately, almost like a pregnancy test or a diabetes test,” he said. “It should be simple, so I kept working on it.”
For a while, Bryant got moved in different directions and started looking into similar tests for Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, but he continued to work on creating a product for early detection of upper respiratory illnesses. When COVID came around, he knew it would work as a screening device.
The product can help identify COVID in both symptomatic and asymptomatic people, making it a valuable asset for businesses. Companies such as Kautex, Textron, Aecon Construction, Fresh TV and ETIO Public Health Consultants are using Anosmic to screen their employees. Virocule and Septrion are also working to introduce the product into the NHL.
“Every business owner, small or large, we have to be worried about our staff,” Bryant said. “We also have to follow workplace safety as set up by the Ontario government, which is that employees need to be protected. No one should have to go to work and have fear of getting sick or ill, so our product really addresses that.”
Anosmic comes in two sizes: the 15-millilitre bottle has over 75 tests, enough for a family of four for two weeks, while the 100-millilitre bottle has over 500 tests and is intended for commercial use. Bryant hopes people will use Anosmic as part of their daily toolbox to stop the spread, particularly because Virocule can produce enough product in one day to screen every Canadian.
The product remains the first and only authorized Class 1 medical device to screen people for coronavirus at home on a regular basis, according to Bryant. It was first used in Muskoka during a filming project at Deerhurst Resort. Bryant was there doing work for one of his other businesses and the smell tester came in handy as a way to screen the employees on site.
That’s also the day Anosmic found its distributor for Muskoka. John Till, owner of Septrion, saw Anosmic in action and was amazed at how quick and easy it is to use, especially considering the many hours he waited to get tested for COVID in the past. He felt the product could be revolutionary, so Septrion partnered with Virocule to bring the smell tester to his hometown.
“I wanted to get involved to be able to bring Anosmic to the North,” Till said. “There is huge potential to do a lot of good with this product. As a proud resident of Huntsville, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to live here and I believe that it is much needed.”
This post is sponsored by Virocule.