A recent study published in Science Translational Medicine (Finlay et al.) has potentially revealed why certain individuals who have recovered from acute COVID-19 continue to suffer from smell loss & olfactory dysfunction.
The study used olfactory epithelial biopsies in patients suffering from long term COVID-19 related smell loss to conduct immunohistochemical assessments, and found a number of continuous immunological issues in the tissue samples.
Most prominently, the study identified ongoing inflammatory signaling & an associated reduction in olfactory sensory neurons. This indicates a continuous autoimmune reaction long after acute phase COVID-19 recovery.
An ongoing autoimmune reaction after acute viral infections have been observed for other viruses, for example, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Due to the fact that the current strains of SARS-CoV-2 virus are extremely easy to spread, & demonstrates increased immune escape, it is thus likely that such autoimmune issues associated with COVID-19 will continue to be a public health concern going forward.
We at Safety Nest would like to advise everyone to wear a tight fitting mask when going into public indoor spaces, practice good hand hygiene, and increase ventilation and HEPA air filtration both at home and at work, in order to mitigate the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 & other respiratory illnesses. This is especially important now that the Omicron XBB1.5 strain is spreading fast around the world as well as within the United States.
(Cover photo by Elly Johnson on Unsplash)