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Risk of developing dementia, brain fog remain even two years after contracting Covid-19

As the world continues to reel under the effects of Covid-19 and several parts of India report a jump in hospitalisation from the virus, a new study is raising concerns. Researchers have found that millions of people face a high risk of developing neurological and psychiatric conditions, nearly two years after they first contracted the virus.

Researchers investigated neurological and psychiatric diagnoses in over 1.25 million people following the diagnosis of the Covid-19 infection. They used data from the US-based TriNetX electronic health record network over a 2-year period and compared their frequency with a matched group of people recovering from other respiratory infections.

The findings published in the medical journal The Lancet state that just after the emergence of the delta variant, increased risks of ischemic stroke, epilepsy or seizures, cognitive deficit, insomnia, and anxiety disorders were observed, compounded by an increased death rate.

In positive news, the increased risk of anxiety and depression subsides within two months of Covid-19 and, over the whole two-year period, is no more likely to occur than after other respiratory infections. However, diagnoses of neurological disorders including dementia, psychotic disorders, and brain fog continue to be made more often after Covid-19 throughout the two years.

"It is good news that the excess of depression and anxiety diagnoses after Covid-19 is short-lived and that it is not observed in children. However, it is worrying that some other disorders, such as dementia and seizures, continue to be more likely to be diagnosed after Covid-19, even two years later," Professor Paul Harrison, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, who led the analyses, said in a statement.

Researchers noted that, like adults, children recovering from Covid-19 were more likely to be diagnosed with some conditions, including seizures and psychotic disorders. Meanwhile, more neurological and psychiatric disorders were seen during the delta variant wave than with the prior alpha variant. The omicron wave is associated with similar neurological and psychiatric risks as the delta.

The study, however, fails to address how severe, or how long-lasting, the disorders are.

India on Friday saw a single-day rise of 15,754 new coronavirus infections with the death toll climbing to 5,27,253 with 47 new fatalities. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 3.47 per cent, and weekly at 3.90 per cent, according to the health ministry. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,36,85,535, while the overall fatality rate has been 1.19 per cent.



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