COVID-19 infection has been linked to loss of smell and taste since the beginning of the epidemic. However, a new study suggests that the Omicron form of the coronavirus is far less likely to have these characteristics than the previous Alpha and Delta versions.
According to primary study author Dr. Daniel Coelho, the findings are important in assessing whether someone has COVID-19. He teaches at Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
In a university news release, Coelho stated, “Loss of smell and taste is still an excellent predictor of a COVID-19 infection, but the reverse is no longer true.” “Just because your sense of smell and taste are normal does not mean you are COVID-negative.”
As per US News, the researchers looked examined data from the US National Institutes of Health on more than 3.5 million COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began. They identified six-week intervals when incidences of each variety were at their peak, then examined how many individuals were diagnosed with smell and taste loss during those times.
The research discovered that Omicron had a 17 percent rate of smell and taste loss, compared to 44 percent for Delta and 50 percent for Alpha.
The research was just published in Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.
“This is very excellent news for patients as the pandemic continues and new strains develop,” Coelho added. “We now know that each variety has a particular risk factor for linked smell and taste loss, and there’s reason to anticipate that newer variants will have less of an impact. “
The consequences of losing one’s sense of smell and taste are “not just about being able to appreciate a beautiful bottle of wine again; it’s about safety and preserving one’s quality of life,” according to Coelho.
According to their findings, more than half of patients with a loss of smell or taste have reported feeling depressed. “Patients who lose their sense of smell are more likely to develop dementia. Because fewer people are experiencing these symptoms, fewer people are affected by mood swings and cognitive issues “He elaborated.
The research could also aid efforts to figure out which portion of the COVID-19 virus is responsible for the loss of smell and taste.
“Understanding what causes smell and taste loss in the first place will help us better understand how to treat it,” added Coelho.
The researchers now want to see how recovery time from loss of smell and taste differs between genotypes. They went on to say that more research is needed to see if vaccination status affects the rate of scent loss.