Scientists: Smelling, Tasting Loss From COVID-19 Is Temporary

One of the most frustrating symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus is the loss of the sense of smell and scientists now say they think they understand why it happens. The experts writing in the journal Science Advances said the coronavirus infiltrates the cells that provide major structural support to sensory neurons — the neurons that detect odors and send those messages to the brain. Since the sense of smell is linked to the sense of taste, the coronavirus also affects the ability to taste food. Harvard Medical School researchers said 90% of recovering COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of smell and taste regained it.   “Once the infection clears, olfactory neurons don’t appear to need to be replaced or rebuilt from scratch,” neurobiology professor Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta writes in the Science Advances study. “But we need more data and a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms to confirm this conclusion.”  In separate studies, scientists are still trying to conclude whether it is possible to get COVID-19 twice. They say the particular coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new and much is still unknown.Health-care workers prepare to test people with COVID-19 symptoms near the beach in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, Monday, July 27, 2020.U.S. officials told The Associated Press that Russian military intelligence is using three different English language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus. Among the headlines that Russian agents spread, according to the officials, is one that suggests Russia has given the United States substantial amounts of aid to fight the coronavirus, and another saying Chinese authorities believe the coronavirus is a biological weapon. The U.S. officials told AP that about 150 different articles were published on the websites that both praise the U.S. response and tear it down as inadequate. It is unclear exactly why the Russian operatives may be spreading disinformation, but the U.S. officials said it may be an attempt to stir up confusion ahead of the November presidential election, although the stories do not appear to give an advantage to one candidate over the other.  McDonalds said Tuesday that it had missed its profit expectations because of a nearly 25% drop in same-store sales because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Nearly every McDonald’s dining room is closed, and the restaurants are open for drive-thru or curbside delivery service only.  McDonald’s shares lost more than 2.5% on Wall Street Tuesday. But the company said it expect July sales figures to be up, saying it has adjusted to a different way of doing business.  Elsewhere, Malta’s health ministry said Tuesday that 65 people out of a group of 94 migrants rescued at sea a day earlier tested positive for COVID-19. “Migrants arriving by boat are immediately quarantined for 14 days and tested. The migrants who are positive will continue to be isolated and the rest will remain in quarantine and followed up,” the ministry said. The nationalities of the migrants were not disclosed, but authorities believe their overcrowded boat had taken off from Libya.  And starting Saturday, the North Atlantic island of Madeira will become the first Portuguese territory to make it mandatory to wear face masks in public. Authorities on Madeira have reported only 105 COVID-19 cases and no new ones since last week.   “The use of the mask is exactly to show those who visit us the reason why we have these results,” the region’s general health secretary, Pedro Ramos, said. Masks on Madeira are already required in stores and on buses.  Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has resisted measures such as lockdowns and social distancing, said Tuesday that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and recovered “on his feet.” “As I said, 97% of our population carry this infection asymptomatically,” he said.  Belarus has confirmed more than 67,000 cases and 543 deaths related to the coronavirus.  Lukashenko’s apparent indifference to the virus has been a part of recent protests against his authoritarian rule ahead of next month’s presidential election. Belarus’ refusal to put two major opposition leaders on the ballot all but assures him of another term. 

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