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9 Jul, 2020 19:10

Mainstream media makes wild claims that Covid-19 causes BRAIN DAMAGE & STROKES, but there’s little evidence so far

Mainstream media makes wild claims that Covid-19 causes BRAIN DAMAGE & STROKES, but there’s little evidence so far

There are a growing number of stories being published outlining the possible neurological effects of Covid-19. They are determined to petrify people without proper evidence. But the researchers themselves are to blame as well.

Everyone knows by now that in the vast majority of cases, Covid-19 presents as mild or even asymptomatic. But the Guardian, fearing the unhindered spread of sensible information, has launched a peripheral attack on the majority of the public who are well aware they have little to fear personally from Covid. Latching onto a study from a niche journal, they enthusiastically draw links between mild cases of Covid-19 and “serious brain disorders.”

The source of this reportage – or garbage – is a single research article, published on July 8 in Brain, a neurology journal published by the Oxford University Press, which itself is a department of the University of Oxford. It is a reasonably well known publication in that field, the fourth most prestigious neurology journal, according to the SCImago Journal Rank, a ranking website (In terms of references per article, however, it does not even appear in the top 100).

Old news

RT previously reported on a similar study based on 153 patients in the UK who had the coronavirus, and were now presenting with a range of possible neurological symptoms. Elderly patients were experiencing strokes, brain haemorrhages and a dementia-like syndrome, while the young had ‘altered mental states’ including anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue and confusion.

Not to be trite, but aren’t anxiety, depression and confusion just part of growing up? Aren’t there a lot of John Hughes movies about this? I definitely remember Molly Ringwald struggling to get out of bed of a morning…

And as for the elderly… confine a previously active and vivacious 80-something-year-old to their home (or worse) for three months, ban them from seeing their families and constantly bombard them with fiddled statistics about all of their generation dying, and do not be surprised to see an uptick in “dementia-like syndrome.”

Regular exercise and a vibrant social life are many old people’s best defense against the ravages of age, and this is well documented (including in journals like Brain).

The Guardian are not the only ones at it; the BBC, the Conversation and all have featured long, glossy ‘think pieces’ under headlines like ‘How Covid-19 can damage the brain’. “Memory disturbance” is another of these new “Covid symptoms” that can be used to puff up diagnoses wherever they are needed. How many of you have forgotten what day of the week it is during this endless lockdown? Talk about over-medicalized language.

The scientists behind the paper have already invented a name for this Covid spinoff: ‘Adem’, or acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Expect to hear much more about it as the virus itself melts away. Like a lot of neurological disorders, Adem can refer to pretty much anything they want it to, such is the vagueness of the description.

Look hard enough…

Another possible explanation for all of these curious ‘Covid side-effects’ that seem to expand every week is this: when you go looking for something hard enough, you’re bound to find it. Pumping huge resources into association studies of every person who has had (or thinks they have had) Covid is going to throw up all sorts of correlations, not all of which will be causal.

None of this is to say that Covid cannot affect the central nervous system. Proper evidence showing that Covid-19 contributes to brain disorders may well build up over time. But there is a problem with this kind of science, a sort of ultra-focus on a handful of clinical cases scoured from far and wide, which seems to have decided on the “associations” it is going to find before the research begins.

Corporations like the BBC and the Guardian do not need to be asked twice to leap on these “findings” like hungry dogs, their science editors’ minds abuzz as they concoct new headlines to terrify and coerce the masses.

The vast majority of evidence still suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, which has evolved to replicate primarily in the cells of the lungs. And when it comes to the brain, the restrictions of lockdown are far more likely to damage your mind than the virus.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.