Recovery of anosmia in hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2 is correlated with repair of the olfactory epithelium.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for a pandemic affecting billions of people worldwide. Apart from the extreme global economic impact, the pandemic will likely have a lasting impact through long-term sequelae not yet fully understood. Fully understanding the mechanisms driving the various symptoms and sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection will allow for the eventual development of therapeutics to prevent or treat such life-altering symptoms. In this study, we developed a behavioral test of anosmia in SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters. We find a moderately strong correlation between the level of anosmia and the score of histological damage within the olfactory epithelium. We also find a moderately strong correlation between the level of anosmia and the thickness of the olfactory epithelium, previously demonstrated to be severely damaged upon infection. Thus, this food-searching behavioral test can act as a simple and effective screening method in a hamster model for various therapeutics for SARS-CoV-2-related anosmia.