COVID-19 : it is confirmed for the loss of taste and smell

Jean-François Cliche
The SunCOVID-19 : ça se confirme pour la perte de goût et d’odorat

COVID-19 : ça se confirme pour la perte de goût et d’odorat

COVID-19 : ça se confirme pour la perte de goût et d’odorat

May 3, 2020 4: 00


COVID-19 : it is confirmed for the loss of taste and smell


SCIENCE DAILY / Each day, my colleagues at the Center Click and Québec Science and I answer all your questions about the COVID-19 to the best knowledge of the time. But with the enormous research efforts that are devoted to the coronavirus currently, these knowledge are evolving very quickly. So here are two small updates, history to keep you abreast of the latest developments !

Language and pif

The COVID-19 impairs the ability to taste and feel ? At the end of march, the health authorities in quebec have decided to include the”anosmia” among the possible symptoms of the coronavirus, even if there was no study available on this subject — expert evidence, although anecdotal, were sufficiently numerous for it, judged it. In mid-April, in a text on the symptoms are “bizarre” that the COVID-19 causes, we wrote that a study that had been published had found that approximately 70 % of patients with the COVID-19 reported a loss of taste and/or smell, compared to only 15% to 20% of those who did not have this virus but who had symptoms similar to a flu. The study, however, was small, consisting of only 59 people with the coronavirus.

And at the end of April, the Journal of the American Medical Association published another study involving 202 patients who have tested positive for the SARS-CoV2. Result : nearly two-thirds (64 %) have had the taste and/or smell is altered by the disease. Note that this could not be explained completely by the fact that they had the stuffy nose, since only 35 % have reported this symptom.

Then the track of the loss of taste and smell seems to be confirmed.

In aerosol form ?

Normally, this study, published Monday in Nature and that found in RNA (a form of genetic material) of the COVID-19 in the air around hospitals would not be an “update”. Not alone, in any case. But it has been such a media response that it is worthwhile to briefly return to.

The study itself is interesting because it adds data to answer the very important question of whether this coronavirus is spread mainly by droplets (that fall quite quickly to the ground) or if he is traveling also in the form of”aerosol”, that is, particles much finer that remain in the air longer and can travel much further than droplets. The authors have taken samples of air in various locations in and around chinese hospitals and submitted them to the tools of detection extremely sensitive. They found that the RNA of the COVID-19 in several places, especially the more passers-by.

At first glance, all this seems to want to say that yes, this coronavirus trip in aerosol form, which would be a very bad news since this would make it more contagious than you think. The catch, however, is that this study is much less conclusive than many of the media have done with it. First, as the authors themselves state, there is a difference between finding the RNA of the virus and to find active viruses in the air. The simple fact of see a little bit of genetic material, the COVID-19 in the air, therefore, is not a proof that the virus is transmitted by aerosols.

In addition, as stated by the professor of medicine of McMaster University Zain Chagla, the same technique has been already detected the RNA of other microbes in the air, such as influenza, whereas one knows that these diseases are not aérosolisables. In addition, he said, we know some special cases of contagion, which are more consistent with transmission by droplet with the theory of the aerosol — including an outbreak in a call center in South Korea, where a single room had been touched as it would be expected that a virus aerosol spread to several floors.

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You have to ask questions about the world that surrounds you ? They concern physics, biology or any other discipline, our journalist will be happy to answer them. To our eyes, there is no “silly question”, no matter “too small” to be interesting ! Then write to us at :

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