COVID-19 infection could age brain by 20 years, lower IQ significantly

A severe coronavirus infection could leave patients with the brain of a 70-year-old, lowering someone’s IQ by 10 points, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London found that COVID patients are dealing with levels of cognitive impairment which are similar to the decline a healthy person sees between the ages of 50 and 70. Disturbingly, the team warns that this damage may never fully heal.

Long-term cognitive and mental health problems have been a growing issue during the pandemic. Even after the infection passes, a large number of patients continue to experience “brain fog,” problems recalling words, sleep issues, PTSD, and dozens of other symptoms for months — a condition doctors call long COVID. A recent study found that up to six in 10 recovering patients develop long COVID.

Even a mild case of the virus can lead to lingering cognitive issues. Study authors say as many as three-quarters of hospitalized COVID patients could suffer from some level of brain damage and cognitive decline.

Brain aging 20 years — in 6 months

Their new study examined 46 coronavirus patients entering the hospital or an intensive care unit between March and July 2020. Sixteen of these individuals ended up needing mechanical ventilation due to severe infection.

Six months later, the team conducted a series of computerized cognitive tests using the Cognitron platform. The system measures different aspects of brain health, including memory, attention, and reasoning skills. Researchers also examined each person’s levels of anxiety, depression, and PTSD following their infection.

In comparison to over 66,000 healthy people from the general public, results show severe COVID patients were less accurate and had slower response times on cognitive tests. These deficits were even worse among patients needing ventilation while in the hospital.

Estimates show that the damage from a COVID-19 infection led to the same amount of cognitive decline that the average person sees after 20 years of aging — between ages 50 and 70. That’s also the equivalent of losing 10 IQ points during their illness and the months following.

Specifically, COVID survivors did poorly on tasks involving verbal analogical reasoning — which translates to problems with finding the right words in conversation. The patients also displayed slower processing speeds, which the team says connects to the decreases in brain glucose consumption within the frontoparietal network of the brain doctors are seeing during the pandemic. This area of the brain controls a person’s attention span and complex problem-solving skills. It’s also important to their working memory.

“Cognitive impairment is common to a wide range of neurological disorders, including dementia, and even routine ageing, but the patterns we saw – the cognitive ‘fingerprint’ of COVID-19 – was distinct from all of these,” Professor David Menon says in a university release.

Some COVID-19 patients will ‘never fully recover’

Although studies continue to find ties between long COVID and lingering mental health issues, the study authors say they’ve discovered a clearer link between the severity of someone’s infection and cognitive decline. Concerningly, the team found that patients are only gaining some of these skills back over time.

“We followed some patients up as late as ten months after their acute infection, so were able to see a very slow improvement. While this was not statistically significant, it is at least heading in the right direction, but it is very possible that some of these individuals will never fully recover,” Prof. Menon adds.

As for what’s causing COVID to take such a toll on the human brain, researchers say there are a number of possibilities. COVID could be directly infecting the brain, but the team notes this is not a major cause. It’s more likely that a combination of inadequate oxygen or blood supply to the brain, blood clots, and microscopic bleeds are all contributing to the brain damage in coronavirus patients.

There is also growing evidence that COVID-19 produces inflammation which is similar to what people experience while developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Around 40,000 people have been through intensive care with COVID-19 in England alone and many more will have been very sick, but not admitted to hospital. This means there is a large number of people out there still experiencing problems with cognition many months later. We urgently need to look at what can be done to help these people,” concludes Professor Adam Hampshire from the Department of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London.

The study is published in the journal eClinicalMedicine.

Comments

  1. Masks are the problem, low blood oxygen levels, higher levels of CO2 in the blood. Interesting to note that neither Fauci or any of the other liberal so-called doctors and scientists never once mentioned this problem with the mask mandates, quiet telling actually. This is a fact, you wear a mask, you do not completely exhale the CO2 from your body, and as you inhale the mask does not allow you to keep your blood oxygen levels at the normal range, do that to your body day-in and day-out for months or even years and you are slowly killing yourself.

    1. Right. That’s why there are no surgeons left in the world. Wearing that dreadfully pesky little mask all day killed them all.

    2. They controlled for that. Many antivaxxers are also anti-maskers. So the people who got COVID weren’t wearing masks.

    3. Medical providers, like myself, wear mask day in and day out throughout our entire careers! I guess for those who are ignorant it’s easier to make up falsehoods than to accept the truth and reality.
      Masks work especially the k05/n95! Numerous scientific studies haven proven that mask reduce transmission.

  2. Did the study consider which of these 46 patients had been administered remdesivir, which killed 54 percent of the patients in one study?

    It would be wise to investigate the neurologic effects on those who treated themselves early at home with cheap antivirals and vitamins and so avoided going to the hospital, where so many have died on the massively profitable but deadly remdesivir/ventilator hospital protocol.

  3. Studies such as this beg the question: were these hospitalized people already in cognitive decline due to immune system compromise prior to contracting Covid? Were they more susceptible to harsher effects of Covid – along with dozens of other viruses and ailments, that would have also resulted in the cognitive decline being measured?
    Now where’s the large-sample study following up on people who experienced adverse reactions to the covid vaccines, measuring any long-covid type cognitive decline?

    1. Nice attempt at deflection. Fauci’s virus is bad news, there is no getting around it. It was designed to be.

      And they’re still at it. Ask yourself, is the Wuhan Institute of Virology (and others like it) closed?

      “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature!”. A corny old commercial. How true it was.

  4. Know what else lowers your IQ significantly? Carrying your liberal ideas past the age of 30.

  5. Mass formation psychosis drops the IQ too. As does the covid vaccines. Nobody is getting the full truth about the heart damage either.

    It is funny how all this is happening on Biden’s watch

  6. “COVID-19 infection could age brain by 20 years, lower IQ significantly”

    And Biden, Harris, and Pelosi all had COVID.

    Explains a great deal, doesn’t it?

  7. they still never isolated the virus — correct or not
    there is no physical representation of the virus, isolated in a lab
    covid is a computer construct — a projection, a theory
    they effectively cancelled the flu to 0 cases, while covid, when it had been 10s of 1000s per yr
    the test used for covid is PCR and its creator said “100% NO” to using it as a test
    if reckless with PCR, you can find covid on a golf ball, on anything, anywhere
    the whole thing is a mess

  8. (your site failed to format, correctly, the comment I submitted)
    they still never isolated the virus — correct or not. there is no physical representation of the virus, isolated in a lab, making covid a computer construct — a projection, a theory. scientists effectively cancelled the flu to 0 cases, while covid, when it had been 10s of 1000s per yr. the test used for covid is PCR and its creator said “100% NO” to using it as a test. if used recklessly, PCR can find covid on a golf ball, or, on anything, anywhere. this whole thing is a mess

  9. Hey, having had Covid in early 2020, and having been born in1951, just how bad is having a brain of a 70 year old ? And now being retired and dealing with some not so bright 20 year olds as I run my errands does leave me a little confused now that you mention it. And by the way all of you, Covid hasn’t been the worst health issue in my life, The Hong Kong flu kick my rear as a teenager .

        1. Yes, Vendicar took an internet IQ test about celebrities. He’s a genius because he’s a fan boy who watches soap operas all day long and trolls websites.

  10. Democrats created this virus to attain this result to shore up their base! Considering their constituency, I wouldn’t be surprised!

  11. Most of those who suffer acute Covid-19 symptoms are also elderly and have other serious medical issues. So, we are learning that people who are already prone to dementia can also suffer from dementia when they get infected with Covid-19. Wow, what a profound observation!

  12. Trump got Covid and it increased his IQ by 50%.

    He now has an IQ of 13, the same as the age of his daughter when he said he would “date” her.

  13. It may not be the Covid, it’s those damn ventilators. Nobody comes off of those the same, from any ailment. Same goes for heart lung machines during cardiac bypass. Cognitive impairment rate on those is over 40%.

  14. Uh, correlation is not causation. Likely, the severe covid cases in the study were predominately unvaccinated. Probably, a lot of anti-vaxxers. Probably, anti-vaxxers trend toward the lower IQ range BEFORE getting covid. So that’s what the authors are seeing. Their subjects were just
    dumber than average to begin with.

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