The symptom, called “anosmia” by doctors, is one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of COVID-19, but why does it happen to some?
Researchers wanted to pinpoint the cell types most vulnerable and through their analysis of various datasets, they found that it attacks cells that support the olfactory sensory neurons, which detect and transmit the sense of smell to the brain.
A neurobiology professor at Harvard Medical School and co-author on the paper says, “findings indicate that the novel coronavirus changes the sense of smell in patients not by directly infecting neurons but by affecting the function of supporting cells.”
That means the virus is unlikely to cause permanent damage to olfactory neural circuits, meaning patients can recover their sense of smell.
Lose of smell is also said to be one of the easiest ways to identify if someone has the coronavirus.