Wake up and smell the Covid: loss of taste lingers long after the virus
Until the pandemic struck, anosmia – the loss of smell – was relatively rare
It’s been 68 days since I lost my sense of taste and smell, not that I’m counting. In late March, just when I thought I was recovering from a thankfully mild bout of Covid, I spent a brief couple of minutes marvelling at the fact that my pan-fried fish hadn’t caused the kitchen to smell at all. Reality soon kicked in. Every day since then, I’ve hoped that I will literally be able to wake up and smell the coffee, but the wait goes on.
I’m not alone. The loss of taste and smell was added to the official list of Covid symptoms in May, and scientists monitoring the virus have found that it’s by far the strongest single indicator of infection, more so even than a cough or fever. Until Covid struck, anosmia – the medical term for a loss of smell – was relatively rare, though it was known to affect people with viral infections, and other conditions such as head injuries.
I spoke to Chrissi Kelly, a former anosmia sufferer, who runs the smell-loss charity, Abscent (I see what they did there). Kelly told me that the first sign that something strange was happening came as early as February this year, when she received a message from a Twitter user in Iran, asking for help. A couple of weeks later, she was contacted by an ENT surgeon in Italy who was suffering. By the end of March, literally thousands of people in the UK were asking for assistance...