Experts now fear that young people, whose lungs are mostly spared by the virus, may be at risk from its neurological effects. These findings come from 153 case studies of British adults who have displayed some neurological symptoms after a bout of suspected Covid. Many of the victims are in their 20s and 30s and were previously fit, with no underlying conditions, but have been unable to shake off lasting effects of their Covid-19 infections.

Unsurprisingly, the most serious Covid side effects – like strokes, brain haemorrhages and a dementia-like syndrome – affect mostly the elderly. But the disorders of mood and altered mental states seem to hit the young the hardest. For them, anxiety, depression, confusion and chronic fatigue are the main worries. In extreme cases, it could get a whole lot worse.

People with Covid have even suffered from encephalitis (the inflammation of brain tissue), catatonia (extreme immobility or stupor) and psychosis. And that’s not all. Seizures have been reported at a high rate in children with Covid. There have also been reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune disorder which begins with a tingling in the hands and feet and can lead to full paralysis. Even post-traumatic stress disorder has been mentioned as a possible after-effect of Covid infection.

The result of this spate of terrifying findings is that some neurologists have called for no Covid-19 patient to be discharged from hospital before being given an MRI scan. Could it transpire that the coronavirus ends up being as grave a threat to mental health as it is to physical health? That seems to be the trend, and experts are already predicting dire and long-lasting after-effects for public health.

There is one clue to these mental effects that was right under our noses since the beginning. A large proportion of Covid sufferers experience partial or complete loss of taste. Until now, it was assumed that the virus caused this by acting on the olfactory receptors in the nasal canal. But at least one patient with this symptom was found to have coronavirus in her brain – specifically the regions responsible for sense of smell. Although she made a full recovery, this proves that the virus can reach the brain. Who knows what other havoc it could wreak there?

The idea that the new coronavirus could affect the brain is a worrying development, but not a surprising one. Coronaviruses have form for affecting neurology; SARS and MERS both had the ability to enter the nervous system. And there have already been some cases of the virus being found in the cerebrospinal fluid of victims.

We know, however, that the coronavirus rarely directly affects the brain; instead, the virus’s effects on the brain are likely to be by triggering an overreaction from the body’s immune system, which then inflames the nervous system in various ways. In a way, it is our own bodies turning against us that could trigger the worst of these brain malfunctions.

But might there be another explanation for the apparently skyrocketing levels of mental health disorders post-Covid? The millennial and Gen Z generations are not exactly known for their mental fortitude and psychological resilience. In fact, they are generally weak-willed, overly-sensitive and emotionally fragile.

In other words, they respond poorly to adversity of any kind. Quarantine is tailor-made to send them into a spiral of those familiar foes anxiety and depression, and easily could be the true cause of the upsurge in many of these new “symptoms.”

Whether medical or psychologically-induced, our best minds could be at risk from a fresh batch of horrible Covid or lockdown-induced side effects, and the damage they could do does not bear thinking about. The fabled “second wave” might end up being a brain wave… and may last for much longer than anyone was banking on.

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