Left Menu
Development News Edition

Scientists warn of potential wave of COVID-linked brain damage

"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," said Michael Zandi, from UCL's Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study. COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is largely a respiratory illness that affects the lungs, but neuroscientists and specialist brain doctors say emerging evidence of its impact on the brain is concerning.

Reuters | Updated: 08-07-2020 04:31 IST | Created: 08-07-2020 04:31 IST
Scientists warn of potential wave of COVID-linked brain damage

Scientists warned on Wednesday of a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggested COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium. A study by researchers at University College London (UCL)described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects.

The research adds to recent studies which also found the disease can damage the brain. "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," said Michael Zandi, from UCL's Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is largely a respiratory illness that affects the lungs, but neuroscientists and specialist brain doctors say emerging evidence of its impact on the brain is concerning. "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, told Reuters in an interview.

In the UCL study, published in the journal Brain, nine patients who had brain inflammation were diagnosed with a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which is more usually seen in children and can be triggered by viral infections. The team said it would normally see about one adult patient with ADEM per month at their specialist London clinic, but this had risen to at least one a week during the study period, something they described as "a concerning increase".

"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," said Ross Paterson, who co-led the study. "Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes." Owen said the emerging evidence underlined the need for large, detailed studies and global data collection to assess how common such neurological and psychiatric complications were.

He is running a international research project at covidbrainstudy.com where patients can sign up to complete a series of cognitive tests to see whether their brain functions have altered since getting COVID-19. "This disease is affecting an enormous number of people," Owen said. "That's why it's so important to collect this information now."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

How UK’s 'best prepared' healthcare system failed to gauge COVID-19

The UK is proud of their public health system and its unlike any other country as around 90 percent of British public supports the founding principles of National Health Service. But without accurate data being available to stakeholders in ...

Poor on IHR capacity progress in 2019, WHO says Cambodia tops COVID-19 response

Despite being in proximity to Hubei, the original epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia has reported just 226 confirmed cases and zero deaths. After seeing the data, WHO appreciated Cambodias healthcare information system but experts dou...

Loopholes in Healthcare Information System may have failed Singapore COVID-19 model

In the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore was in the limelight for its effective healthcare system and pandemic response plan. However, Singapore has now joined the list of the worst-hit nations and the situation is even worse...

Australia's COVID-19 response: Digital infrastructure of help but implementation remains a challenge

Australias ongoing plans to upgrade its health information system helped by the Digital Health Strategy seem even more practical due to the pandemic. But as evident during the pandemic, administrative lapses and the complex matrix of power ...

Videos

Latest News

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares rise as U.S. manufacturing perks up

Asian shares rose on Tuesday after strong U.S. manufacturing data and gains in tech stocks helped investors look past broader worries about the coronavirus and global economy.MSCIs broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1....

SpiceJet to commence flight services to UK from next month

Budget carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it has secured slots at the London Heathrow Airport, which will allow the airline to commence flight services to the UK from next month. These slots, under the air bubble pact, will later be extended ...

60 new COVID-19 cases in Arunachal; tally rises to 1,752

Sixty more people, including 13 security personnel and four health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Arunachal Pradesh, taking the northeastern states caseload to 1,752 on Tuesday, a senior health official said. Of the 60 new cas...

Tripura CM tests negative for COVID-19 as two family members contract disease

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Tuesday tested negative for COVID-19 even as two members of his family have contracted the disease. Deb, however, has quarantined himself at his residence for the next seven days.Two of my family m...

Give Feedback