A new study has confirmed a worrying link between contracting the novel coronavirus and serious brain damage.
Though many scientists have warned about the growing body of evidence showing a connection between neurological damage and COVID-19, a new paper published in scientific journal Brain has suggested that the consequences are even worse than previously believed. One of the head researchers working on the study is now sounding the alarm about a potential epidemic of brain damage in the future.
Out of 43 patients that were treated at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London between April 9 and May 15, ten patients exhibited severe brain swelling that resulted in delirious episodes. This means that nearly a quarter of COVID-19 patients in the study endured neurological damage.
Moreover, an additional 12 patients showed swelling in their central nervous system and seven were later diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease where the body’s immune system attacks nerve functions. Some patients were also diagnosed with neurological issues after being released from the hospital, suggesting the after-effects of the virus could be even greater than described in the paper.
Researchers added that there did not appear to be a link between the severity of the case — particularly when it came to lung-related symptoms — and brain damage, adding yet another aspect of mystery to the novel virus.
“We’re seeing things in the way COVID-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,” explained Michael Zandi, who is not only a senior author on the study but also a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust, told The Guardian.
“The brain does appear to be involved in this illness,” Zandi added, appealing to those who worked with COVID-19 patients to consider discussing their cases with neurologists.
Moreover, Zandi warned that the widespread evidence of brain issues could have worrying implications in the future.
“One concern is that the virus could leave a minority of the population with subtle brain damage that only becomes apparent in years to come. This may have happened in the wake of the 1918 flu pandemic, when up to a million people appeared to develop brain disease,” he stated.
“It’s a concern if some hidden epidemic could occur after COVID where you’re going to see delayed effects on the brain,” he concluded.
As has previously been covered by The Inquisitr, studies as far as two months back warned that patients who had contracted the novel coronavirus had developed symptoms such as paralysis despite their recovery.
In addition, a more recent study warned that some children who battled the disease had also developed signs of brain damage.