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Mild COVID-19 Can Lead To Brain Changes, Study Suggests

New research appears to suggest that even a mild case of COVID-19 can lead to premature aging of the brain and other changes.

The study, published by Nature on Monday, found that “the brains of those who had COVID-19 had a greater loss of gray matter and abnormalities in the brain tissue compared with those who didn’t have COVID-19,” CNN reported. “Many of those changes were in the area of the brain related to the sense of smell.”

The study “evaluated brain imaging from 401 people who had Covid-19 between March 2020 and April 2021, both before infection and an average of 4½ months after infection. They compared the results with brain imaging of 384 uninfected people similar in age, socioeconomics and risk factors such as blood pressure and obesity. Of the 401 infected people, 15 had been hospitalized.”

The lead researcher, Gwenaëlle Douaud, noted that every year people normally lose 0.2% to 0.3% of gray matter in the memory parts of the brain. “But in the study evaluation, people who had been infected with the coronavirus lost an additional 0.2% to 2% of tissue compared with those who hadn’t been infected,” CNN reported.

“To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal imaging study of SARS-CoV-2 where participants were initially scanned before any had been infected,” the study’s authors wrote.

“This is concerning. And I think what it suggests is that the balance of the information that we’re accruing does indicate that COVID is a disease that could create persistent symptoms,” former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said, CBS News reported. “This isn’t a benign disease. This is something you want to avoid.”

The new study comes a day after the global death toll from COVID-19 passed 6 million, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The grim milestone came as the virus continued to ebb in the U.S. The seven-day average of deaths dropped to 1,510 on Sunday, which is down more than 31% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. Meanwhile, the average daily number of COVID-19 cases fell to 44,386, down 57% from two weeks before, and hospitalizations dropped 43% over the same period.

The number of global deaths — 6,000,864 — represents a 1.34% death rate as Johns Hopkins also reported there have been 446.3 million confirmed cases worldwide. The U.S. leads the world with 79,271,466 cases and 958,621 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins data.

For reference, the 1918 flu pandemic killed 58,000,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Just as Omicron fades, a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has now been detected in every U.S. state, according to a new report. The variant, which didn’t get its own Greek letter name and is known simply as Omicron BA.2, is more contagious than its brother, but vaccines are effective against it, researchers found.

The subvariant was first found in Europe in January and has already spread across the world, “becoming the leading strain behind new coronavirus infections in at least 18 countries,” a report by Fortune magazine said.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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