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Does Covid-19 really shrink your brain?

You may have heard this finding floating around recently, but is it actually true? How serious is it? Let’s discuss. Where did this finding come from? 2 recent studies have emerged from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Oxford. The research presents new biological information about what actually causes the symptoms of covid. Who was involved in the trials? The University of Oxford’s trial involved 785 people. They were “aged between 51 and 81” (Guardian, 2022) and the data sampled involved 2 brain scans: one before and during the pandemic. Their results were validated against 384 control patients – who had not had Covid-19. In the University of Edinburgh’s research, they analysed the genome of nearly 7500 Covid-19 patients who had been admitted to ICU in the UK. This was analysed against nearly 50,000 people who had not contracted Covid-19 or had mild symptoms only. What is a genome? A genome is the body’s complete set of genetic information. What did the trials find? The University of Oxford’s trial found that people who had had Covid-19 experienced more brain shrinkage overall; mainly in areas involved with the sense of smell. Anosmia (loss of smell) was a very common symptom of the Delta variant. The study found on average; patients lost up to nearly 3% of brain matter. This is equivalent to aging up to 10 years. The effects were seen to be worse in older patients. This occurs because Covid-19 attacks the cells. The 2nd trial found that variations in genetic code led to different severe symptoms. This means that the reason some people become very ill or are asymptomatic is because of their DNA. What does their findings mean for the future? The trial’s findings mean that scientists can work out which medicines for other conditions would work to treat these Covid-19 symptoms and have a greater understanding of what the triggers are. This helps to improve the medical response to Covid-19, in turn causing less of a threat or problem to society.

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