COCOS trial: CO rticosteroids for CO VID-19-induced loss of S mell-protocol for a single-centred, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial

Emma J. A. Schepens, Wilbert M. Boek, Sanne Boesveldt, Inge Stegeman, Robert J. Stokroos, Digna M. A. Kamalski

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Introduction Hyposmia and anosmia are common in COVID-19. Most patients regain normal smell within 4 weeks, but severe loss of smell persists roughly in 20% after 2 months and may last up to a year or longer. These persistent smell disorders greatly influence daily life. It is hypothesised that COVID-19 induces inflammation around the olfactory nerve and in the olfactory pathway, leading to smell disorders. Corticosteroids might reduce this local inflammatory response and improve smell. Methods and analysis We will conduct a single-centre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial to determine the efficacy of a short high-dose treatment of oral prednisolone for persistent loss of smell after COVID-19 in the early phase. We will include 116 patients with persistent (>4 weeks) loss of smell within 12 weeks of COVID-19 diagnosis, based on a positive PCR/antigen test. One group receives 40 mg of prednisolone for 10 days and the other group receives matching placebo treatment. In addition, all patients will perform smell training for 12 weeks. The primary outcome is objective olfactory function measured by means of sniffin' sticks test. Secondary outcomes are objective gustatory function by means of taste strips test and subjective taste and smell ability, trigeminal sensations, quality of life and nasal symptoms, measured by three questionnaires. These outcomes will be measured at inclusion before treatment and 12 weeks later. Ethics and dissemination The Institutional Review Board of the University Medical Center Utrecht approved the research protocol (21-635/G-D, October 2021). The trial results will be shared in peer-reviewed medical journals and scientific conferences. Trial registration number NL9635. EUCTR2021-004021-71-NL.
Original languageEnglish
Article number060416
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • COVID-19

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