The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the entire globe and people have been unable to see any ray of hope. Now adding to everyone’s dismay, scientists have warned that coronavirus can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium. So does that mean that coronavirus-related brain damage epidemic is going to hit us next?
Well, a study by researchers at University College London (UCL) described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 and they all suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects. The study also found that the disease can lead to complete brain damage as well.
“Whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic perhaps similar to the encephalitis lethargica outbreak in the 1920s and 1930s after the 1918 influenza pandemic remains to be seen,” Michael Zandi from UCL’s Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study, told Reuters.
As we all know the COVID-19 pandemic mostly affects the lungs but neuroscientists and specialist brain doctors claim that its effects on the brain are alarming. “My worry is that we have millions of people with COVID-19 now. And if in a year’s time we have 10 million recovered people, and those people have cognitive deficits … then that’s going to affect their ability to work and their ability to go about activities of daily living,” Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at Western University in Canada, further reiterated.
Add to this, nine patients who had brain inflammation were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). While earlier they would see one adult patient with ADEM per month at their specialist London clinic, now the cases have risen to one a week and that’s a “concerning increase”. Talking about it, Ross Paterson, who co-led the study, added, “Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause.”
Adrian Owen is currently running an international research project involving a complete series of cognitive tests to see whether the brain functions of patients have altered since getting COVID-19.