I usually don’t write about exploratory or preliminary research, but in this case, there are multiple small scale studies pointing to the same result.
Researchers at Georgia State University have found that COVID-19 patients who had fever or required oxygen supplementation tend to show reduced volume of gray matter in the frontal lobe of the brain after recovery. This reduced volume may be tied to
a. Long-COVID symptoms some patients experience, and/or
b. Anxiety and mood swings that some patients experience after recovery.
The cause of the reduction of gray matter isn’t known, but may be associated with reduced oxygen flow to the brain during the illness. That reduction is a risk of both heart and lung issues, and COVID-19 is known to cause both.
What impact the reduction in gray matter may have on cognitive ability isn’t known. Nor can we assess the impact on longer term health or life expectancy. The disease hasn’t been with us long enough. We’ll find that out only through experience.
And for those still cavalier about COVID, that experience could be devastating.