We all know that being sick can change what you want to eat, but for those who catch COVID-19, their taste buds and sense of smell can become much different to how they were before the virus. One common effect of the illness, even without the more worrying symptoms that the disease can also cause, is that one’s sense of smell and taste can be altered. The lessening of taste is called hyposmia, a decrease of smell is called hypogeusia, and the loss of these senses is known as anosmia. Having these symptoms can make food taste bad, unusual, or even not taste of anything at all.
A bartender named Russell Donnelly contracted COVID-19 and lost all sense of taste. To see how deep his anosmia went he bit into a raw onion and recorded the effects on video. He seemed completely unfazed by the raw onion, though later in the filming said that he even though he couldn’t taste it, he could feel it in his sinuses.
He then chased the onion with a generous shot of straight lemon juice. And, he showed no reaction at all to the sour drink. Then he followed it all with a spoonful of minced garlic which he also couldn’t taste.
Donnelly stated that people were telling him to “try and eat some some nasty stuff” to see if he could taste it, but he said he didn’t he didn’t have anything that gross in his house already. Instead he opted for the strongly flavored foods mentioned above for his COVID-19 taste test. He ended his video by stating, “This is a crazy virus.”
Researchers believe that the olfactory support cells (called sustentacular cells) are affected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, making it hard for some infected individuals to smell and taste. However, it’s unclear why the virus does this to its hosts. Crazy virus, indeed!