We're not done with COVID. And it's not done with us. Andrew Nikifork writes:
This question demands to be top of mind: What can COVID do to our brains?
Add to a growing stack of relevant research a controversial report published last week by Nature Medicine.
It suggests that seven out of 100 COVID cases could lead to serious brain problems that may last a lifetime.
The authors, led by Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, used U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical records to track the brain health of 154,000 people who had tested positive for COVID.
Their conclusion, as summed up in a press release: “Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection.”
The lingering effects can be severe:
They include strokes. Cognitive and memory problems. Migraine headaches. Epileptic seizures. Involuntary muscle contractions. Hearing and vision abnormalities. Balance and co-ordination difficulties. Depression and anxiety. And symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.
“We’re seeing brain problems in previously healthy individuals and those who have had mild infections,” said lead researcher Al-Aly.
“It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, female or male, or what your race is. It doesn’t matter if you smoked or not, or if you had other unhealthy habits or conditions.”
Dr. Wes Ely, an ICU doctor and expert in long COVID at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, called the results “shattering” and “insane” in a TikTok video.
The study has its critics. But, nonetheless, it raises several red flags:
Ely noted: “This VA Study is very large and even though it is 70 per cent white males who were unvaccinated, we already have data showing that vaccinated patients are still at risk for neurological and cardiological complications months after acute and mild COVID.”
Other research shows, for example, that even mild COVID infections can result in significant shrinkage of grey matter as well as lasting damage to neurons essential for sensory and motor function.
The virus can also penetrate the blood-brain barrier and ignite central nervous system inflammation. The blood-brain barrier is a sort of immunological roadblock that prevents infections in the blood from entering the brain.
A Danish study also found that risk of ischemic stroke, which blocks blood flow to the brain, was more frequent in COVID-positive patients than in those with respiratory infections.
“There have been several studies by other researchers that have shown, in mice and humans, that SARS-CoV-2 can attack the lining of the blood vessels and then trigger a stroke or seizure,” Al-Aly said in the news release. “It helps explain how someone with no risk factors could suddenly have a stroke.”
So don't throw away that mask. And don't listen to the morons who tell you that the mask is an infringement on your personal freedom.