Worst-hit Covid patients’ brains age up to 10 YEARS and suffer fall in IQ, UK study finds

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THE brains of patients worst hit by Covid-19 age up to 10 years and cause IQs to drop, a UK study has found.

Tests on the cognitive abilities of people who had suffered from the coronavirus showed they performed worse than those that hadn't caught the bug.

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Clinical staff care for a patient at the Intensive Care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge (stock image)


Clinical staff care for a patient at the Intensive Care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge (stock image)Credit: Getty Images - Getty

A staff member and a patient at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside (stock image)


A staff member and a patient at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside (stock image)Credit: PA:Press Association

Even people who showed only mild symptoms scored lower on the tests than those who had not got Covid.

The research was led by Dr Adam Hampshire and was carried out by researchers from Imperial College, the University of Cambridge, King's College London and the University of Chicago.

Cognitive results of 84,285 participants were analysed from a study called the Great British Intelligence Test, the Daily Mirror reported.

Those worst affected suffered an 8.5 drop to their IQ.

Covid sufferers who had to be placed in intensive care suffered more severe mental issues, the study found.

Those who had coronavirus had relatively low scores in tests on logic, the meaning of words, spatial orientation, attention and processing emotions - even those who had fully recovered from the virus.

The report found there were "chronic cognitive consequences of having Covid-19".

"Individuals who recovered from suspected or confirmed Covid-19 perform worse on cognitive tests in multiple domains than would be expected, given their detailed age and demographic profiles," the study said.

"This deficit scales with symptom severity and is evident amongst those without hospital treatment."

Of those who took part in the tests, 60 said they had to be put on a ventilator due to having Covid while 147 said they were treated in hospital for the virus.

The report - which is yet to be peer-reviewed - called for more research into the effects of "Long Covid".


On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that one in 10 Brits under 50 may get Long Covid if they contract the virus.

It's thought that hundreds of thousands of people who have contracted the virus are still suffering with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue in the weeks and months after they catch the bug.

Around one in 50 patients suffer for three months and researchers from King’s College London said there are five factors that put you at risk of ongoing suffering.

The umbrella term covers those who have recovered from the bug - but have since been left with issues such as fatigue, respiratory problems and mental health issues.

On Long Covid, Mr Hancock said: "The virus can affect anyone, or any age and any background.

"We have already seen worrying numbers of young, fit, healthy people suffering debilitating symptoms months after contracting Covid.

"A study by King's College London showed that one in 20 people with coronavirus is likely to have virus symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness, muscle pain and neurological problems for eight weeks or more."

But he added: "In the under 50 year old adults its more like one in ten."

“There does seem to be some correlation that implies that it is more of a problem amongst younger people.

“Understanding this Long Covid is still in its early stages and an awful lot more research is needed.”

He said he had met people in their 20s and 30s "unable to work, sapped of all their energy, living with the effects of a virus that has completely changed their lives".

And he warned: "To anyone of any age - catching Covid can be very grave indeed."


There appears to be no correlation between how bad the virus is when people catch it and whether they get long-term problems.

In some cases people have no symptoms initially and can find they have months and months of other symptoms, he added.

But according to the KCL study, people who had a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of being ill were more likely to have prolonged health problems.


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It found those who had more than five symptoms in the first week were as much as three times more likely to have Long Covid.

And women were 50 per cent more likely to suffer from long-term symptoms than men - but only in the under-50s age group.

Those who developed long Covid also had a slightly higher average body mass index (BMI) than those that didn't, suggesting weight could play a factor.

Full list of 170 long Covid symptoms that plague body and mind

From hair loss to incontinence - long Covid can take many different forms.

Health workers in the intensive care unit at Whiston Hospital (stock image)


Health workers in the intensive care unit at Whiston Hospital (stock image)Credit: PA:Press Association

One in ten Brits under 50 may get long Covid, Matt Hancock reveals

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