New York Google searches for coronavirus symptoms line up closely those for loss of smell and eye pain, suggesting they could both be symptoms for the deadly disease, according to top-selling author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.
"In New York there are now about one-sixth as many searches related to eye pain as there are searches related to loss of smell," Stephens-Davidowitz told The New York Times. "Nonetheless, doctors and public health officials should probably look closely at the relationship between COVID-19 and eye pain."
Stephens-Davidowitz is the author of "Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are." In the book, he writes about what Google searches can reveal about human behavior.
He says searches for 'loss of smell' in the US are highest in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan, the four states hit hardest by coronavirus.
"Searches for 'no puedo oler' ('I can't smell') are some 10 times higher per Google search in Ecuador than they are in Spain, even though Ecuador officially reports more than ten times fewer COVID-19 cases per capita than Spain does," Stephens-Davidowitz said.
And a recent study showed that nearly 60% of people diagnosed with coronavirus have a loss of smell and taste.
Another study from China showed that a third of coronavirus patients developed eye problems.
"Notably, searches for eye pain rose above fourfold in Spain between the middle of February and the middle of March and rose about 50 percent in Iran in March," said Stephens-Davidowitz. "In Italy, searches for 'bruciore occhi' ("burning eyes") were five times their usual levels in March."
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