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Will one in three corona patients develop a brain disease?

by drbyos

In early April, a study from the University of Oxford was published in the Lancet Psychiatry. Media around the world took up this study, often with titles such as “1 in 3 Covid survivors will develop a brain or mental disorder.”

Will one in three corona patients develop a brain disease?

The study compared about 230,000 Covid patients with 100,000 influenza patients and a group of about 230,000 respiratory tract infection patients, and found that in the Covid group, about 33 percent of patients received a psychological or neurological diagnosis up to 6 months after experiencing corona. And the risks within the Covid group were higher in the various conditions than in the other groups.

The most important caveat to this, in the context of the ‘1 in 3’ claim, is that seven out of eight patients (87 percent) had previously been diagnosed with a neurological or mental illness, before they became infected with the coronavirus. Only one in eight patients was diagnosed with a new diagnosis. In short, for about 4 percent of the Covid group, the brain diagnosis in question was a new diagnosis.

Patient records

Another important side note is that the study was a data study, in which the researchers had access to the patient records of 81 million Americans. These patient files also often contain temporary or incomplete diagnoses, as a result of the operation of the American insurance system. This creates further noise in the dataset – a disease stated in the data does not actually have to be the definitive diagnosis.

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The research makes it clear that there is a difference between the Covid group and the control groups. It confirms previous reports and studies that there may be neurological and / or psychological consequences of experiencing corona, and that there could be larger groups of patients with neurological or psychological complaints than with (severe) flu or other respiratory infections. But to what extent Covid is really the cause of the various disorders remains unclear despite this research. A probability of one in three is in any case written down far too oversimplified by the researchers and various media.

With thanks to doctormedia.nl.

More information

The Guardian


De Volkskrant

The Lancet


Frank Leeman

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