The loss of taste and smell have been key symptoms of COVID-19, and many sufferers have had a long-term impact from the illness on their senses. The ZOE COVID symptom app has reported that as many as one in 20 people who have had COVID suffer from symptoms for more than eight weeks. How has this impacted their lives, and what does this sensory loss mean for people’s experience of food, now and in the future? As many sufferers from loss of sense and smell can only experience tastes that are highly salty or sweet, will this lead to a health and nutrition impact that lasts?
Joining host Stefan Gates is Barry Smith, Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of London. Barry Smith is the UK’s lead for the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR) and is studying the long term impact of loss of taste and smell in Covid-19 sufferers. He provides a fascinating insight into the issue, reveals how COVID is causing some to experience smell loss (anosmia), get better and then suffer from smell distortion (parosmia), a situation that hasn’t been seen before, and offers ways that sufferers can reach out for help for their sensory loss.
Barry Smith, Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of London
Barry C Smith is a professor of philosophy and director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, as well as the founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. He is also the UK lead in the study of the long term impact of the loss of taste and smell in Covid-19 sufferers.
He has held visiting professorships at the University of California at Berkeley and the Ecole Normale Superiéure in Paris, and in 2012 he was appointed as the AHRC Leadership Fellow for the Science in Culture Theme, as well as Pro-Dean for new academic initiatives at the School of Advanced Study.
Are you affected?
Barry Smith mentions two charities within the episode that can provide support for those who are suffering from loss of taste and smell, they are Abscent and Fifth Sense. Both are specialised in helping those suffering from the long-term loss of taste and smell through COVID, and have specific resources that can help.