Albert Moukheiber: The mystery of the effects of Covid-19 on the brain

In the various public debates around the Covid-19 epidemic, we often talk about its case fatality rate – is it comparable to that of the flu and will we be able to reduce it, in the event that the coronavirus continues? to circulate in the coming years? We also quibble about the effects of confinement on the contamination curves. I am not a virologist or epidemiologist, I am a psychologist and neuroscientist. I am therefore more interested in the potential impacts of Sars-CoV-2 on the human brain and psychic apparatus.

We must not only focus on the lethality of Covid-19, we must also study the possible consequences it could have on the long-term quality of life of the people who have contracted it. Now, with a year of hindsight since the appearance of the virus, scientific articles on this subject have multiplied and we are starting to be able to draw some lessons from them – in this regard, I would like to thank Romain Ligneul, researcher in neuroscience at the Champalimaud Foundation, in Lisbon, which does a remarkable job of listing publications on this topic. First, I would like to remind you that the brain remains the most mysterious organ in the human body and that, while it is easy to see the effects of Covid on a lung, those on the brain are far from being as readable. So we, as researchers, need to show humility. However, I think we need to share our knowledge as often as possible, even when it is fragile. The silence of scientists leads to suspicion and reinforces a kind of infantilizing relationship that we can have with each other.

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