Among the many lingering maladies caused by Covid-19 and causing increasing concern to medics and scientists is the effect of the virus on the brain.
Patients around the world have been found to have a range of conditions related to their neurological functioning, including confusion, trouble focusing and changes in behaviour.
The associate director of the Johns Hopkins Precision Medicine Center of Excellence for Neurocritical Care, Robert Stevens MD reports that “at least half of the patients I’m seeing in the Covid-19 units have neurological symptoms.”
‘We already know that ICU survivors are vulnerable to cognitive impairment’
In July researchers in the UK launched a study to follow 10,000 coronavirus survivors to try and “understand the disease’s long shadow”. Doctors are aware of the “breathtaking array of tissues in the body” the virus can disrupt, one of which is “a dramatic inflammatory reaction” in the brain.
Science magazine report “the virus may damage brain cells, and inflammation in the brain or body may also cause neurologic complications”, adding that other “viral infections can also lead to brain fog.”
A study of 125 seriously ill coronavirus patients in UK hospitals, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, found nearly half had suffered a stroke and others had brain inflammation, psychosis, or dementia-like symptoms.”
Prof Tom Solomon, one of the authors of the report, told the BBC that “it’s clear now that this virus does cause problems in the brain”, and added: “We should also ask whether the virus itself is infecting the brain.”
Prof Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist based in Canada said: “We already know that ICU survivors are vulnerable to cognitive impairment” and added, “getting sent home from the ICU is not the end for these people. It’s just the beginning of their recovery.”
Biggest U-turn of all
Perhaps the most famous Covid-ICU-survivor is Boris Johnson. The prime minister boasted in March that on a visit to a hospital he “shook hands with everyone”.
Then he fell ill. And ended up in isolation in Downing Street. Before ending up in hospital. And then an ICU ward.
“He nearly took one for the team,” his father Stanley Johnson memorably remarked after Johnson Jnr was discharged.
the prime minster went almost immediately back to work and a summer of chaos and crisis distinguished by U-turn after U-turn has followed.
It has culminated this week in the biggest U-turn of all – Johnson’s decision to try and “override” key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by willingly, deliberately and proudly declaring his government will break international law “in a very specific and limited way”.
Because, it transpires, the Withdrawal Agreement is not everything the PM previously said it was.
Something more sinister still?
Yet it is the very same “oven ready deal” that the very same PM negotiated, agreed, signed and then championed and sold to the British public to win a general election and force through parliament in quick time to “Get Brexit Done.”
With everything that has happened since, and in light of the scientific evidence outlined above – particularly the findings that coronavirus can cause neurological malfunctioning in survivors including confusion, trouble focusing and changes in behaviour – the question must be asked: does Boris Johnson have Covid-19 brain fog?
Or, is his wilful disregard for the UK’s international standing – at the most crucial time of all given negotiations for post-Brexit trade deals with the rest of the world are pending – the result of something more sinister still?