Some people don’t experience any symptoms, while others experience cold or flu-like symptoms due to COVID-19 infection. And then there are those who go through the whole nine, suffering from body aches, fever, cough, and loss of taste and smell.
A new study was conducted in 2020 at NewYork Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical center in New York City. The scientists tested 266 people for antibodies to COVID-19 at least two weeks after their symptoms had mainly subsided. Tests revealed that the subjects no longer showed signs of active infection. None of the test subjects experienced severe cases, and they did not have signs of acute infection. During their tests for antibodies, the scientists observed that subjects had no lingering symptoms, save for potential loss of smell or taste.
About two-thirds of participants reported that they either had an impaired sense of smell or taste. About 58% of participants said that infection altered both senses. Compared to people who never lost taste or smell, the people who did lose those senses were twice as likely to test positive for virus-fighting antibodies.
Fever, Cough, Runny Nose Not Linked To Antibody Protection
In 2020, the most predominant COVID-19 symptoms were fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Interestingly enough, those symptoms did not have an influence on the presence of antibodies in people who recovered from acute infection. That suggests, according to the study, that loss of taste and smell may predict that you have a longer-lasting ability to fight the virus.
According to the researchers that conducted the study, one limitation is that they relied on patients to accurately recall and report loss of taste or smell during infection. Another drawback from the study is that test subjects only reported loss of taste because their sense of smell changed. Scientists confirm that loss of smell can alter taste, which can compromise a person’s ability to distinguish the flavors in food they eat. Finally, the study wasn’t a controlled experiment to prove whether or not loss of taste and smell directly reduced risk of reinfection.
Do Antibodies Help Prevent COVID-19 Reinfection?
The study had limitations, but the findings are similar to other research on the presence of antibodies after a bout of COVID-19. A 2021 study found that people with negative antibody tests were 10 times more likely to get a second COVID-19 infection after three months. A similar study observed individuals from three to six months after a mild COVID-19 infection. The results indicated that everyone with antibodies did not get reinfected. In fact, nearly every single participant in that study retained high levels of antibodies after six months.
In conclusion, this information may be useful in patient counseling, but more research is necessary to fully understand antibody protection. Additionally, COVID-19 infection differs from person to person, meaning one person may have higher antibody levels than someone who experienced the same symptoms. According to the preliminary studies, though, loss of taste or smell from COVID-19 infection may lower your risk of reinfection.