Mild Covid cases can cause significant brain damage, top doctors warn

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Over 20million people in the UK have caught coronavirus at some point in the past two years. In most cases they’ve suffered little more than the equivalent of a nasty bout of flu.

But a chilling new study suggests that even a mild case of Covid-19 could cause lasting brain damage.

Autopsies of people who have died from Covid have identified irregularities in their brain tissue, but scientists at the Tulane National Primate Research Centre have conducted a series of tests on monkeys known to respond to Covid in a similar way to humans.

The research, published in scientific journal Nature Communications, looked at the brain tissue of four rhesus macaques and four African green monkeys deliberately infected with the virus.

The tissue was compared with scans of similar animals that hadn’t suffered from Covid.

In the infected animals, scientists found severe brain inflammation and injury consistent with reduced blood flow or oxygen to the brain, including neuron damage and death. They also found small bleeds in the brain.

“Because the subjects didn’t experience significant respiratory symptoms, no one expected them to have the severity of disease that we found in the brain,” said lead author Tracy Fischer, PhD, lead investigator and associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane.

“But the findings were distinct and profound, and undeniably a result of the infection.”

Many Covid sufferers have reported experiencing wide range of neurological symptoms such as headaches, “brain fog” and loss of taste and smell.

Professor James Goodwin said earlier this year that just being diagnosed with the disease can cause significant stress and anxiety – potentially triggering depression.

Writing in the Telegraph, he highlighted one case of a woman in her fifties who appeared to have recovered from Covid. But after returning home she began to suffer hallucinations. She said she could see lions and monkeys prowling around her house. As her condition worsened she became convince that her husband had been replaced with an identical impostor.

But that was just one isolated case and until now, little was known about exactly how the disease affects the brain and central nervous system. The new research suggests that all of us could be faced with a lasting legacy from the pandemic, the true scale of which may never be known.

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  • Monkeys
  • Coronavirus

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