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Genetics Play a Role in Smell and Taste Loss After Covid-19

Scientists found that some people lose their sense of smell or taste after contracting COVID-19.   A team of researchers has identified a Genetics risk factor that increased the odds of losing their sense of smell or taste after a COVID-19 infection by 11%. The new study was recently published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers believe the culprit is a locus, or a particular place of a gene on a chromosome, located near two olfactory genes linked to COVID-related loss of taste and smell.  The loss of smell and or taste is a common early symptom of a COVID-19 infection, with one study claiming that up to over a million people have lost their sense of smell for six months or more after contracting the virus.

The study says that the researchers collected data from the Genetics testing company 23andMe of nearly 70,000 adults who self-reported testing positive for the virus.  Although the study’s findings provide an essential insight into what could be causing COVID-19-induced smell and taste loss, researchers noted the study has limitations.

Researchers note that the study is biased toward people of European ancestry, and loss of smell or taste were combined in a single survey question. The study said that the loss of smell without loss of taste might be distinct from loss of both or loss of taste without loss of smell. It is unclear if our findings relate more strongly to one symptom or the other.

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