Good news: Covid may help us understand how Alzheimer’s works!
Bad news: Covid is making us stupid
Scientists have long known that areas of the brain involved with smell and taste also are involved in memory, thinking, planning, and mood, and public health officials are increasingly concerned about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on brain function, memory, and cognition, a phenomenon known as “brain fog.” Scientific evidence is emerging that the virus’s neurological impacts are multi-pronged and not necessarily related to “long COVID,” or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). In a study published in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine, researchers from Imperial College London and colleagues examined data from 81,337 people who took exams as part of the Great British Intelligence Test and completed questionnaires regarding self-reports of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The team found that the 12,689 individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 exhibited significantly more cognitive deficits than their matched counterparts, even among people who said they were no longer experiencing symptoms. Cognitive deficits were found to be especially substantial among those who were hospitalized, those who were hospitalized and on a ventilator, and those who had more severe symptoms but recovered at home.
Researchers with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, who recently presented data at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, found that neurological changes seen after COVID-19 mirror those found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic studies are showing that the genes responsible for increasing the risk of more severe COVID-19 also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Additionally, anecdotal reports suggest Alzheimer’s diagnoses appear to be more common among people in their 60s and 70s who have had severe COVID-19. Further research is ongoing to determine COVID-19’s longer-term impacts on neurological function, including cognition, intelligence, and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
I’m really curious to find out how protective the vaccines are against these effects.