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Study find genetic link to COVID-induced loss of smell and taste

COVID-19 smell

Scientists are potentially one step closer to understanding why some people lose their sense of smell or taste after contracting COVID-19.

A team of researchers have identified a genetic risk factor that increased the odds a person would lose their sense of smell or taste after a COVID-19 infection by 11 percent, according to a study 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.

Researchers collected data from the genetic testing company 23andMe of nearly 70,000 adults who self-reported testing positive for the virus, the study says.

Although the study’s findings provide an important 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.

“Loss of smell without loss of taste may be distinct from loss of both or loss of taste without loss of smell,” the study says. “Given this, it is unclear if our findings relate more strongly to one symptom or the other.”

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