Is Long COVID a brain injury?

Study led by Benedict Michael finds global cognitive deficits

A recent study on Preprint server Research Square suggests that brain fog, memory and concentration problems may be due to brain injury caused by the COVID-19 virus.

The study found that 351 patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 had evidence of a long-term brain injury a year after contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus – this was compared against 2,927 healthy controls. These findings were based on cognitive tests, self-reported symptoms, brain scans, and biomarkers. 

More than 60% of COVID-19 survivors display persistent symptoms even months or years following recovery from the primary infection, significantly impacting their quality of life.

Treatment with corticosteroids during the acute phase appeared protective against cognitive deficits. The study authors suggest that “These findings support the hypothesis that brain injury in moderate to severe COVID-19 is immune-mediated, and should guide the development of therapeutic strategies.”