Covid may cause brain damage linked to strokes due to body battling to fight off virus, study claims
10th January 2021

COVID may cause brain damage linked to strokes due to your body battling off the virus, a study claims.

Research has found that coronavirus infections might cause an inflammatory response in the brain, leading to 'stroke-like' damage to certain areas.

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Researchers from the National Institutes of Health used an MRI scanner and found damage to the olfactory bulb in the brain and also damage in the brain-stem.

And because no coronavirus was found in the tissue, the conclusion was made that the damage resulted from “the body’s inflammatory response to the virus.”

The researchers had found damage caused by thinning and leaky brain blood vessels in samples from patients who had battled coronavirus.

But the study revealed that the damage didn't look like it was associated with symptoms of "a lack of oxygen."

Avindra Nath, the clinical director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the senior author of the study, said: “We found that the brains of patients who contract infection from SARS-CoV-2 may be susceptible to microvascular blood vessel damage."

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, he added: "Our results suggest that this may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus.

“We hope these results will help doctors understand the full spectrum of problems patients may suffer.

"This so that we can come up with better treatments.

"So far, our results suggest that the damage we saw may not have been not caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly infecting the brain.

“In the future, we plan to study how COVID-19 harms the brain’s blood vessels and whether that produces some of the short- and long-term symptoms we see in patients.”

The study was conduced on brain tissue from 19 patients who had died from coronavirus, aged five to 73, who had suffered with the virus for varying amounts of time.


Dr Nath described himself as being “completely surprised” at finding brain damage among the samples, adding that the harm was multifocal and “usually associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases.”

Stroke-like complications were revealed in ten patients, and the scans exposed damage that “corresponded to congested blood vessels”.

The findings in the recent study have revealed more about the neurological symptoms that many coronavirus sufferers have experienced.

Meanwhile, every adult is on course to get the Covid vaccine by autumn with 200,000 Brits already getting jabbed each day, Matt Hancock said today.

The Health Secretary unveiled the UK's "exit strategy" out of the pandemic and revealed 350million doses of the vaccine are on order.

And he said he hopes every adult will have received the jab by autumn this year as part of the biggest vaccination programme ever.

But he refused to speculate on whether the lockdown rules could be strengthened amid claims from scientists they are "too lax" in stopping the spread.

Scientists believe the measures do not go far enough to stop cases exploding and are instead calling for a "total clampdown".

They say nurseries should be closed as well as places of worship with it made compulsory to wear face masks in public.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also led calls for face coverings to be worn outside the home as he declared a major incident in the capital.

Covid cases today jumped by more than 50,000 for the 13th day in a row as deaths rose by 563 – pushing the total number of victims to more than 81,000.

There are now 3,072,349 people infected with the disease in the UK after 54,950 tested positive.

Deaths have continued to rise with the latest toll pushing the total number to 81,431.

Today's figure is the third-highest Sunday rise in deaths and there is a usually a lag in reporting at the weekend.

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