US man highlights extreme COVID-19 symptom by eating gross foods

Russell Donnelly.
Russell Donnelly. Photo credit: TikTok

A US man is showcasing one of the lesser-known symptoms of COVID-19 by filming himself eating gross foods. 

Russell Donnelly, from Jersey City, was diagnosed with coronavirus this week and told BuzzFeed so far the only symptom he has had is a loss of taste and smell. 

"My only symptom is that I can't taste or smell. Other than that, I'm 100 percent," Donnelly told BuzzFeed. 

The 30-year-old said that after one of his friends didn't believe that he couldn't taste anything at all, he decided to make a series of TikTok videos where he ate gross foods.  

"My buddy didn't believe me that I couldn't taste stuff and said, 'Eat some nasty shit,' and I was like, 'Well, okay'," he told BuzzFeed. 

So far he has posted several tastes tests and amassed more than 40,000 followers and millions of views. 

His most popular video, with a whopping 13.3 million views, shows him eating a raw, red onion like an apple among other unpleasant things. 

In the video, he says he can't taste the onion at all and follows up with a shot of lemon juice and a large tablespoon of garlic paste. 

"Nothing, nothing, and nothing. This is a crazy virus," he says after eating each food. 

In another video, Donnelly brushes his teeth with toothpaste before eating more raw onion, orange juice, a shot of balsamic and apple cider vinegar followed by a large bite of a lemon, none of which he can taste. 

In a third video, he eats an oreo filled with a large dollop of wasabi, which is the first food he has a reaction to. 

"Ergh, I can definitely feel that in the sinuses, still no flavour in the mouth though. In conclusion, the effects of wasabi on the sinus cavity are unaffected by COVID."  

In his most recent video, Donnelly eats chicken and gravy baby food, sardines, a large squirt of mustard, anchovies and capers, and a raw clove of garlic. 

Despite the lighthearted nature of his videos, Donnelly said they are meant to highlight the importance of taking COVID-19 seriously. 

"To everyone who thinks COVID is fake, or not that bad, just know that I am lucky to only have this symptom. 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," he told BuzzFeed. 

So far the US has recorded more than 10.4 million cases and 241,000 deaths. In the past 10 days alone it has recorded more than 1 million new cases as infection surge.