Gustave Flaubert is rekindled ,‘As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.’ This aphorism stands its ground in the ongoing pandemic. There have been a host of stories doing the rounds in the social media regarding the pandemic and the vaccine. We have so far been dismissive about most of them given the frivolousness of the claims made every now & then , but one of the most recent findings has been compelling enough to merit a deeper look. A recently published study in The Lancet states that neurological symptoms were present in 55% of the Covid-19 patients. This was observed in the follow up visit 3 months later. The study , named ‘Cerebral Micro-Structural Changes in COVID-19 Patients – An MRI-based 3-month Follow-up’ , establishes that infection has the potential of causing long term brain damage leading to a loss of smell and taste. The report goes on to indict the virus of a possible neuro-invasion which has the capability of attacking the Central Nervous System as well.
An MRI or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a technique that employs a very powerful magnetic field and radio waves in combination with a computer to produce detailed images of the inside of human body. The report further suggests that on a comparison of the infected patient with a non-infected individual , there were serious changes observed relating to loss of smell and memory. The research also cites a 2005 study that had found evidences of neurological damage in SARS patients. The researchers state that the Covid-19 patients had an augmented olfactory cortices, hippocampi, insulas, Heschl’s gyrus, Rolandic operculum and cingulate gyrus – all are part of the brain. There was also a nominal decline in the working of brain nerves in the assessment.
This transports us back to the past several months , when the pandemic had begun devastating countries across the world , a team of scientists at the University College London (UCL) had warned that there was a good case of Covid-19 leading to severe brain damage causing inflammation , psychosis and delirium. This was a warning that was ignored at the perils of human life. History is witness to a bloodied past , where the 1918 pandemic , the Spanish Flu , lead to an encephalitis lethargica outbreak , which eventually caused 5 million deaths worldwide. Dialing back to 2009 , there was a deadly H1N1 Flu , that too had wreaked havoc.
The initial Coronavirus cases were detected as early as December in Wuhan , as per the open source reports. The alacrity of the response to this was weak , which lead to the spreading of the virus across the world.
To place things in context , it is best to quote a 2010 WHO review committee report which was based on the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which goes on to state that , “The world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global and threatening public-health emergency.”
The nature and exacerbation of the current pandemic has warranted a serious relook at our established medical protocols as there is a slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to implementation of those protocols. The search for a vaccine is still elusive so far with the hope of having one soon but there are promising results from the conducted trials by AstraZeneca which instills faith in a cure though belated.