Science & Tech

Here’s how Yankee Candle reviews can seemingly predict an increase in Covid cases

Here’s how Yankee Candle reviews can seemingly predict an increase in Covid cases
CDC Will Switch to Weekly Covid Reports While Booster Fears Grow

While scientists continue to wrap their head around the complexities of the coronavirus and its effect on the human body, one unusual source has been floated as a potential indicator of when Covid cases are on the rise.

Yankee Candles.

Inspired by a viral tweet from December about people complaining on Amazon that the candles having “no scent” – which prompted some to wonder if that may be down to Covid and a loss of smell – professor Nicholas Beauchamp from Northeastern University in Boston decided to investigate whether it was more than just a coincidence.

And he isn’t the first to spot the curious phenomenon either, as Stanford doctorate student Kate Petrova penned a thread back in November 2020 where she noted the proportion of product reviews mentioning a lack of scent rose from less than two per cent in January that year to almost six per cent in November.

We love science.

Anyway, in Mr Beauchamp’s study, more than 9,800 Amazon reviews from September 2018 to 20 December 2021 were pulled from four best-selling Yankee Candle products, with the percentage of reviews mentioning “no scent” or “no smell” calculated from these.

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The paper’s conclusion reads: “While this study has found no evidence that reviews are a leading indicator of rising Covid cases, Covid does appear to significantly affect ‘no smell’ review rates.

“This suggests that social media sources such as Amazon reviews may be used for surveillance, for measuring Covid-related behaviours, and potentially for early identification or rising cases when online posts appear more quickly than official statistics.”

Although it appears as though the virality (pun not intended) of tweets about Yankee candle reviews may have ruined the fun, as Mr Beauchamp added: “While revealing, inadvertent signalling is also fragile: although an earlier viral tweet had no apparent effect on reviews, in the aftermath of a more recent viral tweet and the ensuing media attention, ‘Yankee Candle’ reviews have become contaminated with self-aware disavowals of Covid.”

Indy100 has seen several one-star reviews mentioning “no smell” or “no scent” under just one of the top Yankee Candles on Amazon, with some wanting to make clear that they definitely “haven’t got Covid”.

Way to ruin the fun, guys.

However, it seems as though not many have spotted the apparent implication which comes with complaining about a candle’s poor smell, as Coders Against Covid co-founder Dr Jorge Caballero noted on Sunday that the one-star reviews were back with a vengeance.

“Yankee Candle reviews indicate that Covid is about [to] surge again,” he tweeted.

The latest possible rise in negative reviews has prompted mixed reactions from individuals online:

The more you know…

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