Covid-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage? Let’s Check Facts!

Fortunately, the Covid pandemic and its effects are powering down these days. There are fewer Covid positive reports and an increasing number of survivors.

However, with this good news has come some bad. Recently, there’s been some speculation around how COVID- 19 can cause brain shrinkage. Is it the truth? Or just another attention-seeking tactic by the media? Today, we’ll find out!

New Study Says “Covid Causes Shrinkage In Brain”

According to a new study published on 7th March 2022 in Nature Journal, COVID-19 may cause grey matter shrinkage in the brain. The condition was specifically found in parts of the brain that process smell, social relationships, and memory.

Researchers examined brain changes in 785 UK Biobank adults ranging in age from 51 to 81 years old as part of the study. The brain scans happened twice for each of these individuals. With an average of 141 days between diagnosis and second scan, 401 individuals tested positive for Covid between their two scans.

To understand the differences between regular brains with the infected ones, the remaining 384 participants also went through the scans. These participants neither had any signs of being hit by any variant of the Corona – nor did they test positive for SARS-COV2 antibodies.

To ensure the scans turn out comparable, the individuals who tested negative had similar factors to those infected. This was in terms of age, gender, and Covid risk factors.

In the group of people who had mild COVID an average of five months before, there were areas of thinning brain tissue. In comparison with their pre-COVID scan, the difference was between 0.2% and around 2%. The normal brain ages between one and six years at this rate. Imagine losing 6 years of fantastic brain capacity!

If Covid-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage, Can Other Respiratory Illnesses Too?

Covid-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage


Some believe that respiratory viruses, including influenza, cause brain damage. In fact, there are many reports on dementia and cognitive decline associated with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. And that with difficulties sleeping and moving. 

Studies of the SARS outbreak reveal that 15-20% of those who recovered from the infection experienced anxiety, depression, and memory impairment.

But there’s no report saying these respiratory issues, like COVID, cause shrinkage in the brain.

Do We Know How Covid-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage?

Covid-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage


The mechanisms of mild COVID in the brain were not studied in this study. However, the authors of the study think that the reasons could be inflammation or degeneration in the brain that goes through smell-related brain networks.

Also Read: Pfizer Shots Protected Kids from Severe Covid-19(Omicron), Says CDC

Is Vaccination Effective?

There’s no data currently on how vaccination increases or decreases the chance of how covid causes brain shrinkage. That’s because the participants in this study got tested positive in 2020 before any vaccination was active.

How Worried Should You Be?

The study happened only on 785 individuals in the UK, while COVID affected millions. Not only is this sample size small, but there’s also not enough data specifying which variants of covid led to the results. Also, vaccination probably reduces the risk to a certain extent.

There’s no use jumping to conclusions. 

You should stay alert enough to avoid getting covid positive but not alarmed enough to get stressed.

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