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Autopsies reveal the damage COVID-19 can inflict on the human brain

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

As COVID-19 relentlessly infects more and more of us, scientists are getting a close look at the strange and permanent damage it can inflict on our bodies. Now, a year into the pandemic, in-depth autopsies of COVID-19 patients have revealed greater details of widespread inflammation and damage in brain tissues. This may help explain the deluge of neurological symptoms that have manifested in some patients, from headaches, memory loss, dizziness, weakness and hallucinations to more severe seizures and strokes.

Some estimate that up to 50 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 could have neurological symptoms that can leave people struggling to do even common daily tasks like preparing a meal.

"We were completely surprised. Originally, we expected to see damage that is caused by a lack of oxygen," said physician and clinical director at National Institute of Health (NIH), Avindra Nath.

"Instead, we saw multifocal areas of damage that is usually associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases."

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