Last month, a study revealed that on top of the common symptoms that one can get from contracting the coronavirus, infected people may also experience loss of sense of taste and the sense of smell. And now, a new study manages to draw a possible explanation for the latter of the two.
Why COVID-19 Can Cause Loss Of Smell
Just over a week ago, British ear, nose and throat doctors sounded the alarm for two possible lesser known coronavirus symptoms, which is the loss of our sense of taste and sense of smell. Per the British doctors, at least two specialists from Britain had been infected with the coronavirus after examining two COVID-19 patients that reported they suddenly lost their sense of smell. Unfortunately, both doctors are now in critical conditions.
In Wuhan, China, there had also been reports of ear, nose and throat specialists getting infected with the coronavirus under suspicious circumstances.
“Previously described coronaviruses are thought to account for 10-15 percent cases. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the novel COVID-19 virus would also cause anosmia in infected patients. There is already good evidence from South Korea, China and Italy that significant numbers of patients with proven COVID-19 infection have developed anosmia,” a statement from ENT UK said.
As such, a group of researchers from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School decided to investigate this mysterious phenomenon, choosing to study genetic datasets in order to identify which cell types allow the coronavirus to infect cells and cause the loss of function of our olfactory nerves, if that’s what happened.
The researchers then found that support cells and stem cells found in the olfactory tissue express both genes that allow SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells, which then leads to the loss of smell, known as anosmia.
“Taken together, these findings suggest possible mechanisms through which CoV-2 infection could lead to anosmia or other forms of olfactory dysfunction,” the researchers said despite the study’s limitations. This is because, for one thing, the findings still aren’t peer-reviewed, and they haven’t been validated by experiments yet as well.