PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — COVID-19 is known to cause severe respiratory issues, but anywhere between 30% to 80% of patients also have neurological problems.
“Headache, dizziness, confusion — a whole battery of symptomology that points that the brain may be affected,” said Dr. Servio Ramirez, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
His research shows that the spike proteins on COVID-19 are able to pierce the blood-brain barrier and make it leak. That barrier protects the brain, keeping it safe from toxins that could cause brain infections.
“All satellites, whether it's Voyager or Sputnik, have those long antenna-type things. The virus has something similar that helps it bind to target cells. So, the spike protein seems to engage the vasculature of the brain and just make it leakier,” he explained.
At this point, Ramirez said the long-term effects of that leaky blood-brain barrier aren't known.