COVID-19 might mainly be a respiratory illness, but according to a recent article from Reuters, a study conducted by University College London, detailed 43 cases of patients with COVID, "who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects." Yeah, COVID-19 could be wreaking havoc on your think-sack, and as much as this sounds like the type of zombie plague you'd see on television, it's actually not that fantastical for a disease like this to work this way. (Even herpes can affect the brain.) But this doesn't make the outcome any less terrifying. According to CNN, who also reported on the study:
"One woman hallucinated lions and monkeys in her house. Others reported numbness in their limbs or face, double vision, and disorientation. One severe patient was barely conscious, responding only when in pain."
We'd say that's some Wizard of Oz shit right there, except we don't remember Dorothy waking up in Kansas in a semi-comatose state. Fortunately, these symptoms seem rare, but the real worry, however, according to Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at Western University in Canada, is that:
"We have millions of people with COVID-19 now. And if in a year's time we have 10 million recovered people, and those people have cognitive deficits ... then that's going to affect their ability to work and their ability to go about activities of daily living."
See that's the thing that truly scares me. We can certainly imagine all of the horrible ways that corona can manifest in the short term, and damn if there aren't a lot already, but forget those for a moment. Because the real issue worth talking about here - the thing we HAVE to start thinking about - is the long term. Even if we were to assume that within a year's time we've somehow magicked the virus away (seems more likely than convincing this country to take a vaccine) we still don't know much about the lasting effects.
COVID-19 cases within the USA just hit 3 million with the obligatory caveat that those are just the cases that have been reported. There are obviously so many more, and while it's fun to joke that America is becoming Idiocracy, the potential for it to be a scientific reality as a significant portion of our population gets afflicted with brain trauma doesn't feel like something worth playing around with. If we don't stop the spread now, then we' might need to plan for a world in which our medical infrastructure and our economic infrastructure are able to support those people later. Considering our track record with both planning and stopping the spread, let's hope the disease just magicks itself away.
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