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Genetics could determine loss of taste or smell with COVID infection, study says

Illustration of the novel coronavirus.
Illustration of the novel coronavirus.(Pixabay)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 3:54 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 3:56 PM CST
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(Gray News) – Your genetics could determine whether you lose your sense of taste or smell when infected with COVID-19, according to a new study.

Some who have been infected with coronavirus may have first noticed it by one of its most telling symptoms: the loss of their taste or smell. Meanwhile, many others who have tested positive for the virus may not have experienced the loss of these senses.

In a study published in the science journal Nature, scientists have hypothesized that the differences in symptoms in those who have been sick with COVID comes down to their genetics.

The scientists collected data regarding the loss of smell or taste from nearly 70,000 people using online surveys. Using this data, they performed a multi-ancestry genome-wide association study in which the genomes of the people who said they lost their sense of taste or smell were contrasted with those who reported they did not lose those senses.

The results of the study showed the loss of senses is associated with a genetic locus near two genes located in the olfactory epithelium, a membranous tissue in the nasal cavity involved in the sense of smell. A locus is the fixed position of a gene or other DNA sequence on a chromosome.

Among other findings, the scientists discovered that people who had East Asian or African American ancestries were less likely to have lost their sense of taste or smell compared to those who were of European descent. Additionally, women were more likely to report the symptoms than men, and younger people were more likely to experience them than older people.

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