A study conducted by researchers from King’s College London indicates that Long Covid has persistent effects on people’s brain function. The research involved over 3,000 participants who experienced longer-term Covid-19 symptoms, including brain fog, and were tested for mental processes up to two years after being infected with the virus.
The participants underwent two rounds of online cognitive testing in 2021 and 2022, focusing on memory, attention, reasoning, processing speed, and motor control. The results, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, revealed that individuals who had experienced Covid-19 symptoms for 12 weeks or more showed reduced performance in these cognitive tasks. The impact of Covid-19 on test accuracy in these cases was comparable to that of a 10-year increase in age.
Interestingly, there was no significant improvement in test scores between the two rounds of testing, which were nine months apart. By the time of the second testing round, the average time since participants’ initial Covid-19 infection was almost two years.
Some people still do not feel fully recovered from Covid-19
On a positive note, those who felt fully recovered after their Covid infection performed similarly to individuals who had not contracted the virus at all. This finding suggests that for people who experience long-term symptoms after recovering from Covid-19, the effects on mental processes, such as memory and recall, are still noticeable nearly two years after the initial infection.
Lead author Nathan Cheetham, a Senior Postdoctoral Data Scientist at King’s College London, expressed that this study highlights the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on cognitive functions for some individuals, while others who felt fully recovered did not exhibit such effects, even if they had experienced symptoms for an extended period.
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Prof. Claire Steves, a Professor of Ageing and Health at King’s College London, emphasized the importance of using sensitive tests to measure brain performance in various challenges. The results indicate that measurable changes in these cognitive tests persist for nearly two years after Covid infection.
It is evident that two years after their initial infection, some people still do not feel fully recovered, and their lives continue to be affected by the long-term consequences of the coronavirus. Further research is needed to understand why this is the case and to explore potential ways to assist these individuals in their recovery, according to Prof. Claire Steves.