COVID Is Very Bad for Some People’s Brains

Or their cognition anyway. Working age people are having increased difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions:

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And the jump is even more stark among people aged 18-44:

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We’re probably looking at up to roughly one percent of infected people who have cognitive difficulties due to their infection, some of which likely persist, and some of which ultimately improve dramatically*. The good news is that ELEVENTY GAJILLION percent of infected people aren’t getting the SUPER BRAIN EBOLA, but the bad news is this isn’t a negligible percentage either. If online discussion is any indication though, our pundit class is utterly incapable of discussing long-term, possibly permanent harm that occurs at a low frequency.

SARS-CoV-2 infection is likely not the sole driver of this (biology is rarely that simple), though at some point, we have to step back from blaming the indirect effects of shutdowns and economic dislocation as the main driver. There are studies which have looked at cognitive dysfunction, and it’s unfortunately not a trivially rare outcome. We don’t know how long this lasts, as these data don’t let us know who is ‘newly disabled’*, but cognitive impairment, even if it eventually goes away in many cases, in up to roughly one percent of adults is something worth avoiding–and at a population level, is really bad.

You’re not the weirdo if you’re still taking reasonable precautions to avoid COVID.

* We don’t know to what extent the surge represents a few percentage points of all workers, most of whom recover full function, versus a smaller percentage who are affected, and most of whom don’t recover and are gradually ‘accumulating.’ Either way, it isn’t good.

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