WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Since the early days of the pandemic, loss of smell and taste have been tied to COVID-19 infection. But a new study shows those telltale traits are much less likely with the Omicron variant than the earlier Alpha and Delta versions of the coronavirus.
The findings are significant in determining whether someone has COVID-19, said lead study author Dr. Daniel Coelho. He is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond.
“Loss of smell and taste is still a good indicator of a COVID-19 infection, but the reverse is no longer true,” Coelho said in a university news release. “Do not think you are COVID-negative just because your sense of smell and taste is normal. “
For the study, the researchers analyzed U.S. National Institutes of Health data on more than 3.5 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. The researchers identified six weeks in which cases were most severe for each variant and compared the number of patients who were suffering from smell or taste loss during these periods.
Rates of smell and taste loss were 17% for Omicron, compared with 44% for Delta and 50% for Alpha, the investigators found.
The study was published recently in the journal Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.
” As the pandemic continues, new variants are emerging, this is very positive news for patients,” Coelho stated. We now know that each variant is associated with a risk factor for taste and smell loss. Therefore, we believe that the newer variants will have fewer adverse effects on taste and smell. “
The loss of taste and smell can have a negative impact on your ability to enjoy wine again. It’s also about safety and maintaining your quality of living, Coelho said.