Researchers at Oxford University examined the electronic health records of 1.25 million people with COVID-19 diagnoses and a matched control group made up of an equal number of patients with other respiratory infections, according to a Financial Times article. They discovered an increased risk of dementia, psychosis, and brain fog two years after infection, implying that neurological and psychiatric illnesses are likely to persist long after the pandemic has ended.

The impact of COVID manifested itself differently across different age groups, the article read.  

  • The effects were most marked in people aged 65 and over, among whom 4.5 per cent developed dementia over the subsequent two years, compared with 3.3 per cent of the control group. For psychotic disorders, the figures were 0.85 per cent in COVID patients and 0.6 per cent in controls.
  • The most significant increased risk among younger adults aged 18 to 64 was cognitive deficit, sometimes called brain fog. It affected 6.4 per cent of people who had COVID during the previous two years and 5.5 per cent of controls.
  • Children were twice as likely to develop epilepsy or seizures — 2.6 per cent developed the condition after COVID, against 1.3 per cent after another respiratory infection. They are also at three-fold increased risk of psychotic disorder, even though this is rare — 18 in 10,000 in the two years after COVID.

However, the study also demonstrated that the effects of COVID could occasionally be transient, indicating the remission of depressive and phobic symptoms two to three months after infection. In a broader context, the Oxford researchers reportedly emphasized the need for further research on all facets of extended COVID, from description and prevalence to molecular reasons and potential treatments.


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