Speaking to the German media outlet, Frankfurter Allgemeine, virologist Hendrik Streeck has admitted that more people are expected to die in 2020 than other recent years due to the coronavirus crisis.
The scientist said that patients have such a bad sense of smell when they get the virus that they can’t even smell their babies’ dirty nappy.
This comes as Germany’s public health agency has warned that the crisis could last up to two years.
In Germany, there have been 7,000 confirmed cases and 14 deaths.
Mr Streeck said: “Almost all infected people we interviewed, and this applies to a good two thirds, described a loss of smell and taste lasting several days.
“It goes so far that a mother could not smell the full diaper of her child.
“Others could no longer smell their shampoo, and food began to taste bland.
“We cannot yet tell exactly when these symptoms will appear, but we believe a little later in the infection.”
The scientist has also said that diarrhoea could be more common than originally thought.
He said: “Diarrhoea also occurred in our infected people in 30 percent of the cases, which is more common than previously thought.”
With regards to the high mortality in Italy compared to Germany, Mr Streeck said: “I’m not surprised at all. Because in Italy only the very difficult symptomatic cases were tested.
The virologist said: “The new pathogen is not that dangerous, it is even less dangerous than Sars-1.
“The special thing is that Sars-CoV-2 replicates in the upper throat area and is therefore much more infectious because the virus jumps from throat to throat, so to speak.
“But that is also an advantage: Because Sars-1 replicates in the deep lungs, it is not so infectious, but it definitely gets on the lungs, which makes it more dangerous.
“Sars-2 is less likely to get to the lungs, which, however, then leads to severe courses.
This comes as the UK’s chief scientist has said that the number of deaths in the UK as a result of the virus is likely to easily 20,000.