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COVID-19: There Could Be Some Long-Term Loss Of Brain Tissue From Virus, New Study Says

COVID-19 Photo Credit: Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

There could be some long-term loss of brain tissue from COVID-19 that would have some lingering consequences, according to a brand-new study.

That loss of brain tissue may explain why COVID patients lost their sense of smell, according to the study, which was conducted in the United Kingdom.

"They looked at people who had had MRI scans of their brains in the past three years and they looked at how many developed COVID and about 300 people, a little over 300 people developed COVID," said former Food and Drug Administration Director Dr. Scott Gottlieb on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, June 20. "And when they compared those individuals who developed COVID against matched controls, people who were similar, who didn't develop COVID, they saw a pretty persistent decline in certain brain tissue matter."

That decline in brain tissue could explain why some COVID patients lost their sense of smell.

"It's very concerning because it does suggest that the virus could be having a direct effect on certain portions of the brain," Gottlieb said. "And if parts of the brain that showed the shrinkage actually are responsible for things like taste and smell and memory, the kinds of conditions, the kinds of complaints that we see COVID patients having after their recovery. 

"They're still complaining about difficulty with smell or taste or problems with memory. So this is concerning."

The study also indicates COVID is a disease that could create persistent symptoms, Gottlieb noted.

"There's this 'Long COVID' some people clearly have persistent symptoms after recovery and it does appear to affect the neurological symptom system, both the brain and perhaps the autonomic nervous system," said Gottlieb,  author of "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic," a soon-to-be-released book. "You see people with persistent tachycardias, persistent fast heart rates, for example. 

"That could be explained by some damage to the nervous system. So this isn't a benign disease. This is something you want to avoid. And the bottom line is we have the tools to avoid it through vaccination."

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