severe cases of Covid-19 would impact the IQ of patients

published on Friday, May 06, 2022 at 10:55 a.m.

With IQ losses of up to 10 points, the cognitive effects of severe cases of Covid-19 have study researchers worried.

While the long-term effects of Covid-19 remain unknown, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, published in the scientific journal eClinicalMedicine, and relayed by Le Dauphiné, indicates that serious cognitive problems can occur in the case of severe Covid-19 infections.

This would directly impact the intellectual abilities of patients and cause their IQ to drop.

As part of this study, 46 patients aged 28 to 83 who were admitted to intensive care after contracting Covid-19 were tested between March and July 2021 in a hospital in Cambridge. In parallel and to compare the results, the researchers ran similar tests on 66,000 people from the general public.

20 years of brain aging

The results are unequivocal: people who have been severely affected by Covid-19 obtained results below the researchers’ estimates. The latter observed less precise results in the face of the tests and longer response times compared to the control population.

The intelligence quotient of individuals who have recovered from long Covid would have dropped by 10 points in some cases, the equivalent of brain aging for 20 years. The observed effects can be difficulty finding a word, completing verbal analogies or having a higher reaction time.

While mild cases of Covid-19 can also have long-term effects on cognitive abilities, they are relatively minor compared to the consequences of so-called severe cases of Covid-19. Also according to the Cambridge researchers’ study, between 33% and 76% of patients suffered from cognitive symptoms, up to six months after their recovery. The researchers conclude that these patients should require longer-term care to address these cognitive deficits.

This is not the first study to look at the effects of the coronavirus on the brain. If hypotheses in this direction emerged from the start of the pandemic, studies – such as the one published in March 2022 by the journal Nature – attest to the effects of Covid-19 on the human brain, and in particular on its size. Another study published in 2021 in Nature Neuroscience demonstrated that the virus could attack brain cells.

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