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A recent study suggests that "brain fog" due to long-lasting Covid has a measurable impact.
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A recent study suggests that “brain fog” due to long-lasting Covid has a measurable impact.

A study indicates that individuals with long-term Covid symptoms display quantifiable impairments in memory and cognitive functioning equivalent to a decrease of approximately six IQ points.

In the summer of 2022, a study was conducted on over 140,000 individuals which revealed that Covid-19 could potentially have long-lasting effects on cognitive and memory abilities. Those who experienced ongoing symptoms for at least 12 weeks showed greater impairments in tasks related to memory, reasoning, and executive function. This evidence suggests that “brain fog” can have measurable consequences.

According to the author of the study, Professor Adam Hampshire from Imperial College London, the concept of “brain fog” has been widely reported as a symptom, but its exact meaning has been unclear. However, the study reveals that brain fog can be linked to measurable impairments, which is a significant discovery.

The Office for National Statistics approximated that there were around 2 million individuals in the UK who had self-reported experiencing long-term effects of Covid last year. A previous analysis by Imperial College discovered that tens of thousands of people in England may still be experiencing symptoms one year after being infected.

In the most recent research, over 140,000 individuals were enrolled from the initial React group. This study, launched in April 2020, is one of the most extensive and thorough Covid monitoring studies in the world. From August to September 2022, participants completed online tests to evaluate memory, attention, reasoning, and other cognitive abilities.

Approximately 3.5% of the study group had sustained symptoms for more than 12 weeks, and of these, about 66% still had symptoms during the evaluation period.

The evaluation revealed minor shortcomings that were still evident at least a year following infection in individuals who had contracted the virus and were no longer displaying symptoms. This equated to approximately three points on an IQ test for those who had been infected as compared to those who had not.

According to experts, individuals are unlikely to notice this amount of change, although some may have noticed more significant impacts.

Patients who were still experiencing symptoms after 12 weeks had a greater deficiency, equivalent to a decrease of six IQ points.

According to Dr. Maxime Taquet, a psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Oxford not involved in the research, even though the cognitive deficits caused by Covid-19 may generally be small, a considerable portion of the population may experience more severe deficits that could impact their ability to work and carry out daily tasks. This is concerning due to the widespread nature of the pandemic and the high number of people affected.

In a more optimistic light, individuals with prolonged symptoms that ultimately subsided exhibited similar impairments as those who had a mild, brief illness.

Professor Paul Elliott, a lead researcher and head of the React project at Imperial College London, stated: “It is a relief to know that individuals who have ongoing symptoms post Covid-19, which have since resolved, can expect their cognitive abilities to improve to a similar degree as those who had a shorter illness.”

People with symptoms that lasted at least 12 weeks (indicative of long-term effects from Covid) and those who were hospitalized for their illness showed the most significant deficits in cognitive functions. This was observed among those infected with early variants of the virus, but it cannot be determined if this is due to the introduction of vaccines and improved treatment during the course of the pandemic.

The results are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: theguardian.com