COVID-19 had been linked to several symptoms--among them are weird ones that haven't been linked to past coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, such as loss of sense of smell, which scientists say are more common among coronavirus patients with mild cases.
Nevertheless, experts were baffled as to why this happens and why it's become a more common symptom of the pandemic and is one of the disease's early signs.
Why Do People Suffer From Anosmia?
Now, scientists finally understand why this happens and offer good news to those who have been affected by this symptom, saying that it should be temporary as they found out that the cells in the nose that help us smell aren't damaged.
According to USA Today, scientists initially thought that anosmia, the medical term for loss of smell, happens because the SARS-CoV-2, or the COVID-19 virus, has damaged or caused inflammation to the olfactory neurons.
These detect smells around us and transmit the data to our brain, which then processes the information.
However, it turns out that they were wrong.
"The novel coronavirus changes the sense of smell in patients not by directly infecting neurons but by affecting the function of supporting cells," said neurobiology professor and co-author of the study, Sandeep Robert Datta.
With that, experts believe that there is no lasting damage to the affected patient's olfactory neural circuits.
Good News for COVID-19 Patients
Additionally, patients could regain their sense of smell within several weeks, especially as they recover from COVID-19, which commonly takes months to heal when it stems from other viral infections.
"Once the infection clears, olfactory neurons don't appear to need to be replaced or rebuilt from scratch. But we need more data and a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms to confirm this conclusion," he further said.
The discovery has been noted in a paper recently published in the journal Science Advances.
Diagnostic Coronavirus Test for Everyone
In related news, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the first COVID-19 diagnostic test that can be used to screen anyone, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of the virus or not.
The FDA has reissued the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR test for emergency use authorization allowing it to be used to people who are not suspected of the virus as they are not showing any of the known symptoms of the infection.
They have posted an official blog post on their website pertaining to the reissued diagnostic test.
This could be incredibly helpful in helping stop the spread of the virus, as COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic do not show any signs that they have the virus, and can, therefore, roam around without knowing they carry the deadly disease with them.
As of now, people who do show possible COVID-19 signs are prioritized for testing, so it can be tough to know who is asymptomatic and could spread the infection.
Additionally, the FDA has also made the move as a way to prepare for the upcoming academic year, as the country is planning on reopening the schools this year amid the rising cases.