Millions lose their smell because of COVID, no one knows why

“If we did lose our sense of smell or we had some sort of weird distortion, it impacts life and it impacts happiness in a really, really subtle way, but it’s no less real,” says Saskia Wilson-Brown, director of the Institute for Art and Olfaction. Photo by Shutterstock.

Smells can be powerful forces, triggering memories and emotions. But for millions of people who caught COVID-19, they’ve been lost — at least temporarily. The reason for that is unclear. Smell itself is largely unknown, even for the world’s master perfumers. Writer Scott Sayare dives into the mystery for the latest issue of Harper’s Magazine. He’s joined by Saskia Wilson-Brown, the director of the Institute for Art and Olfaction

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