The Reason COVID-19 Causes Fatigue And Brain Fog

The inflammation caused by COVID-19 is known as a ‘cytokine storm’.

The inflammation caused by COVID-19 is known as a ‘cytokine storm’.

The COVID-19 virus enters the brain, research finds.

The study could help explain why people with COVID-19 are reporting cognitive symptoms like brain fog and fatigue.

Professor William A. Banks, study co-author, said:

“We know that when you have the COVID infection you have trouble breathing and that’s because there’s infection in your lung, but an additional explanation is that the virus enters the respiratory centers of the brain and causes problems there as well.”

The research on mice found that the virus was able to enter the brain.

After being injected in the body, the so-called ‘spike protein’ of the virus ended up in 12 regions of the brain.

The spike protein usually detaches from the virus and wreaks the same havoc in the body as the virus itself.

The spike protein was transported more quickly in male mice, which may explain the particular susceptibility of men to the virus.

Professor Banks said:

“The S1 protein likely causes the brain to release cytokines and inflammatory products.”

The inflammation caused by COVID-19 is known as a ‘cytokine storm’.

The ‘storm’ is an overaction of the immune system to try and kill the virus.

In the process, the infected person experiences brain fog, fatigue and other cognitive issues, along with the main symptoms of the virus.

Professor Banks said:

“You do not want to mess with this virus.

Many of the effects that the COVID virus has could be accentuated or perpetuated or even caused by virus getting in the brain and those effects could last for a very long time.”

The spike protein functions in a similar way to a critical HIV protein called gp 120.

Both function as ‘arms’ for the virus, helping it to grab on to receptors.

Both gp 120 and the COVID spike protein are likely toxic to brain tissue.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience (Rhea et al., 2020).


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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.