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Long-lasting loss of smell, taste in 5% of Covid cases: study – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

Around five percent of people who have had Covid-19 are developing long-lasting problems with their senses of smell or taste, a major study said Thursday, potentially contributing to the long-Covid burden.

A lost sense of smell has been a hallmark of contracting the coronavirus since the early days of the pandemic, but it wasn’t clear how often such symptoms occur — or how long they can last.

To find out, the researchers analyzed the results of 18 previous studies involving 3,700 patients.

In a new study published in the BMJ, they found that four percent of patients had not regained their sense of smell six months after contracting the virus. Meanwhile, two percent had not regained their sense of taste.

However, it was unclear whether this represented a full or partial recovery.

The researchers estimated that the loss of smell may persist in 5.6 percent of patients, while 4.4 percent may not fully recover their sense of taste.

A woman told researchers she had not regained her sense of smell more than two years after contracting Covid.

The researchers said that while most patients should regain their sense of smell and taste within the first three months after contracting Covid, “a large group of patients could develop a long-lasting dysfunction”.

“That (may) require timely identification, personalized treatment and long-term follow-up.”

Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the research, said it was a “powerful and important study”.

“Studies like this warn us of the hidden strain out there of people suffering from persistent symptoms but who may not have felt it was worth contacting their GP assuming there wasn’t much to be done,” he said.

The research also found that women are less likely to regain these senses than men.

The cause of the disparity isn’t clear, but the researchers suggested that women primarily have better senses of smell and taste, meaning they have more to lose.

The data did not contain which Covid variant the patients contracted. Previous research has shown that newer Omicron variants are less likely to cause odor loss.

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