Healthcare staff tend to a Covid-19 patient at Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Secunderabad | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Healthcare staff tend to a Covid-19 patient at Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Secunderabad (representational image) | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Covid-19 infection may cause long-term brain damage, a study of MRI scans of recovered patients has found.

According to the study published in medical journal TheLancet, “neurological symptoms were presented in 55% COVID-19 patients” during the recovery stage. These symptoms were noted during the follow-up visits three months later.

Called ‘Cerebral Micro-Structural Changes in COVID-19 Patients – An MRI-based 3-month Follow-up’, the study was done by reading Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of 60 Covid-19 patients.

MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images from the insides of a body.

On comparing head MRIs of the Covid-19 patients with those not infected by the virus, the researchers noted structural changes relating to loss of smell and memory in the recovered patients.

“Our findings revealed possible disruption to micro-structural and functional brain integrity in the recovery stages of Covid-19, suggesting neuro-invasion potential of SARS-CoV-2,” said the study published on 3 August.

The 11 Chinese researchers, who authored the study, also noted, “Even if the patients recover well from the pneumonia condition, the neurological changes may cause a great burden.”

They added, “…more research in the mechanism and route of neuro-invasion of SARS-CoV-2 is expected.”

Also read: UNICEF experts say Covid-positive mothers can breastfeed. Doctors explain why it’s safe

How the study was carried out

The researchers have highlighted how “in light of the neurological invasion of SARS-CoV proved by abundant studies, it is plausible to hypothesise that SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to attack the central nervous system as well”.

They have quoted a 2005 study that found a few patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) had experienced central nervous symptoms during the course of their illness.

To see if a similar condition exists in the latest context, researchers studied MRI scans of the 60 Covid-19 patients and compared them with 39 non-Covid-19 people matching in age and gender.

They found that recovered Covid-19 patients were more likely to have enlarged olfactory cortices, hippocampi, insulas, Heschl’s gyrus, Rolandic operculum and cingulate gyrus — all of which are parts of the human brain.

The researchers also recorded a general decline in functioning of brain parameters such as mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity and radial diffusivity. These are used to assess working of the brain nerves.

Also read: Kerala to Odisha, Bihar to Bengal, experts worry crowded villages will add to India’s Covid woes


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4 Comments Share Your Views


  1. It is the nature of scientific publications that even with peer reviewed scrutiny, some bad science is published. It is quite normal for publications getting withdrawn. That, by no means call into question the entire publisher’s trustworthiness. If we cannot trust these publications, who else do we trust? It is necessary that no publication should be ever taken as gospel. One should not accept any publication without the right scrutiny. That paper that is referenced was shown to be bad science through proper scrutiny and had to be withdrawn. That is the normal and correct scientific approach. It is the politics involved in hydroxychloroquine that the paper that was withdrawn got so much publicity. By the way, hydroxychloroqune has been proven to have no effect on Covid19 by several other publications and there is absolutely no proof that it can be used as a treatment for this disease.

  2. Lancet is a sold out publisher. Remember their report on hydroxychloroquine which they withdrew after a week. Not to be trusted. They studied 60 patients??? a very small number for such a study.

  3. Corona will generate pile of statistics .. brain is bound to get damaged even of those who are not tested positive .. listening to Govt noise on every telefone call will damage the brain and ears… all pharma companies are hell bent on making money when coRONA shines by including their wares in coRONA treatment menu card …a lot of spurious value

  4. The article does not mention a relaible source, “Lancet” & 11 Chinese doctors but no more, publish if you can verify, or else refrain from, this is too seious for children to mingle.


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