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A Man With COVID-19 Has Lost His Sense Of Taste And Is Eating Really Gross Foods To Show The Severity Of This Symptom

"I'm one of the lucky ones, to be honest."

While the coronavirus is mainly associated with respiratory symptoms, there's another unfortunate side effect that many people have reported: the loss of taste and smell.

A guy with a mask staring out a window because he's self-isolating.
Justin Paget / Getty Images

Russell Donnelly, a 30-year-old bartender and aspiring actor based in Jersey City, was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days ago. "My only symptom is that I can't taste or smell. Other than that, I'm 100%," he told BuzzFeed. "This second wave is no joke and I'm one of the lucky ones, to be honest."

Russell has taken up a new hobby while self-isolating. A hobby that's accrued over 12 million views on TikTok. "My buddy didn't believe me that I couldn't taste stuff and said, 'Eat some nasty shit,' and I was like, 'Well, okay.'"


Covid taste testing. This is the craziest sensation. #covid19 #fyp #MyHobby #fineart

♬ original sound - rustardlikemustard

"The onion I could feel a little bit in the sinuses, but mostly nothing," he said. "Garlic paste was the easiest. I did lemon juice a couple times actually and if I hold it in my mouth for an extended period of time, my mouth kinda shrivels up like it does when you taste something sour, but there is no flavor. The body still reacts chemically. It's just like the taste buds are turned off."

Russell about to eat an onion on the left, and pouring a shot of lemon juice on the right.
@rustardlikemustard / Via

As though Russell somehow knew my deepest, darkest fear, he did a follow-up video where he brushed his teeth with toothpaste, then took a swig of orange juice. The cherry on top was another bite of his days-old onion, followed by some balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and half a lemon.


Covid test part 2 WASABI OREO up next. For now here’s this....#Covid #covidtastetest #MotivationMonday #fineart

♬ original sound - rustardlikemustard

And in his most recent "taste test" video, he put a dollop of wasabi in the middle of an Oreo. He couldn't taste it, but he sure as hell felt it.

Despite his playful nature on TikTok, Russell was adamant about communicating the importance of wearing a mask and taking the coronavirus seriously. "To everyone who thinks COVID is fake, or not that bad, just know that I am lucky to only have this symptom," he said. "I'm lucky that I'm able to make light of my personal situation, but all in all this virus should NOT be taken lightly because it truly is deadly. I'm young and have no preexisting conditions."

There have been reports of certain symptoms lasting months after people's initial coronavirus diagnosis — one of which is the loss of taste and smell. "I'm a little nervous about not getting taste back, but everyone is suggesting things to speed that process up," Russell said.

"Praying for everyone else whose symptoms are worse than mine," he said. "Also constantly thinking of the ones we've lost and counting my blessings."

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