CancelCovid, an all-volunteer collaboration of individuals from MIT, King’s College, ViralGains, Mavrck, and Science Bounty launched to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by educating people who have suddenly lost their sense of smell that it is a common symptom of the virus, and that they should stay at home and self-isolate. CancelCovid’s first initiative consists of two key pillars — a social media awareness campaign titled the #CancelCovidSmellChallenge, driven by leading influencer marketing platform Mavrck, and a ViralGains survey gathering anonymous population-level data that will allow public health professionals, researchers, and others to aid in predicting, treating, and managing the virus.
Leading ad technology company ViralGains conducted a survey of nearly 2,500 Americans in early May and determined over 141,000,000 American adults did not know that sudden loss of smell can be a symptom of COVID-19. “CancelCovid was formed by scientists, entrepreneurs and artists to amplify the work of doctors in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Tod Loofbourrow, Chairman and CEO of ViralGains. “By teaming up with individuals at MIT for our scientific survey we quickly learned that 55% of Americans are unaware that sudden loss of smell is a COVID-19 symptom that they should be monitoring. One major European study called it a better predictor of COVID-19 infection than fever. This means there are ‘silent spreaders’ out there advancing the infection. We’re determined to change that.”
To get the word out that the loss of sense of smell is an early symptom of COVID-19, leading influencer marketing platform Mavrck activated influencers using their advanced technology to create for good. “We’re seeing significant spikes in influencers’ social media post engagement right now so we knew it was critical to activate those influencers to drive awareness of this message,” said Lyle Stevens, Mavrck CEO.
The team at Mavrck strategically focused on TikTok creators to use a light-hearted campaign—the #CancelCovidSmellChallenge—to capture the attention of their audience. Influencers demonstrate themselves sniffing something smelly, reacting to that smell, then challenge their audience to do the same and log their results at CancelCovid.org. “Utilizing our extensive index of social media influencers, we’ve been able to garner over 5.5 million views within just a few weeks of launching the campaign,” said Stevens. “This clearly demonstrates the potential effect this campaign can have on educating the public and reducing the spread of COVID-19.”
“Getting the sudden loss of sense of smell listed as an official symptom of COVID-19 by health authorities in the US and UK was just the initial step in combating this virus we’re all working hard to better understand and control,” said Claire Hopkins, President of the British Rhinological Society. “I’m excited that my work is being supported and accelerated by CancelCovid through their creative campaign to educate the public about this early symptom. This will be an asset in driving awareness of loss of smell as an early symptom of COVID-19 to help prevent wider infection and even potentially help save lives.”
The social media campaign drives viewers of all ages to frequently monitor whether they have lost their sense of smell. The critical next step of the campaign requests individuals to visit CancelCovid.org and anonymously submit their smell results.