People infected by COVID-19 have increased threats of neurological and psychiatric damage up to two years after infection, Oxford University has reported.
“We found that the risks of post-COVID neurological and psychiatric outcomes follow different trajectories: the risk of cognitive deficit, stroke, dementia, psychotic disorder, and epilepsy or seizures remains elevated two years after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Oxford’s Senior Research Fellow Maxime Taquet reported.
The study was published in the Journal of Lancet Psychiatry. Taquet configured data that highlights “long-hauler” psychiatric disorders. The study involved 1.28 million patients, making it the largest of its kind. The story was published in August in Market Watch, the Washington Post and Time magazine.
Oxford University collaborated with the National Institute for Health and Care Research Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre to determine adults aged 64 and under had an increased risk of brain fog, and stroke. They also discovered those above 65 inherited an increased risk of brain fog, dementia and psychotic disorders.
According to recent government estimates, 7-23 million people in the United States have long COVID symptoms, including fatigue, breathlessness and anxiety that persist for weeks or months once the acute infection subsides. Damage from cases should increase as coronavirus settles into its endemic phase, proving it has the capability of affecting nearly every part of the body — including the brain, the stories reported.
The report notes COVID victims are at increased risk of having 14 neurological and psychiatric diagnoses, including stroke, brain fog, dementia, psychosis, anxiety and depression.
“Findings are relevant… for researchers seeking to identify the mechanisms underpinning brain sequelae of COVID-19, and for patients and clinicians wishing to know the neurological and psychiatric risks following SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said the Oxford report.
David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, studies permanent brain damage from the impact of coronavirus. His expertise analyzing the pandemic’s early stages qualified him to review the Oxford study. Putrino agreed with Oxford’s findings, stating he believes the report appears very troubling.
“It [the study] allows us to see without a doubt the emergence of significant neuropsychiatric sequelae in individuals that had COVID far more frequently than those who did not,” he said.
Strains that differed did not affect the study much as researchers cited Omicron triggered less severe immediate symptoms but had adverse, longer-term neurological and psychiatric damages when compared to the Delta waves.
Co-founder of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, Hannah Davis, concluded the findings were meaningful. “It goes against the narrative that Omicron is more mild for long-COVID which is not based on science,” Davis said.
Maxime Taquet, author of the Oxford report, added that the results “highlight the need for more research to understand why this happens after COVID-19, and what can be done to prevent these disorders from occurring, or treat them when they do.”
“We see this all the time,” Putrino said. “The general conversation keeps leaving out long-COVID. The severity of initial infection doesn’t matter when we talk about long-term sequelae that ruin people’s lives.”
Long-COVID or Post- Acute COVID Symptom occurs when individuals possess at least one persistent symptom that remains after infection from COVID-19. Earlier research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the growing problem, which remains for months, affects roughly one in five people in the U.S.
Here’s what the numbers say:
- The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 593.4 million in August of 2022, while the death toll rose above 6.44 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
- The U.S. leads the world with 93.3 million cases and 1,039,037 fatalities.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.5 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.3% of the total population. But just 107.9 million have had a first booster, equal to 48.3% of the vaccinated population.
- Just 21 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 32.7% of those who had a first booster.