Dear Dr. K;

Dear Dr. K;

Thank you for keeping an open dialogue with me about Covid vaccines.  As you know, I opted against vaccination.  However, over Christmas I caught Covid, but luckily it was a mild flu like illness.  So, I guess I should be OK from here on out. 

I’m glad your illness was mild, but I’m a little hesitant about predicting how things will play out in the future.  First of all, just as vaccination doesn’t provide iron-clad protection so too natural immunity via infection is not 100% effective in preventing re-infection.  Therefore, with the extended nature of the pandemic, following Covid avoidance precautions still makes sense. 

Another concern I have is the frequency of post-Covid sequelae especially neurologic ones.  By now, the general public is well aware of Covid illness’ predilection to impact the sense of taste/smell.  As it turns out, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  At this point in the pandemic, it seems that roughly 70% of infected individuals suffer some sort of extended neurological issue.  For many it’s the smell/taste scenario and for others protracted headaches.  Of much graver concern is research done by Oxford University on 45,000 people in the UK which showed loss of brain mass as measured by CT scanning.  The loss was primarily in the frontal and temporal lobes which subserve the senses of taste and smell but also cognition. 

In this regard, the Oxford scientists conducted performance tests on some of the Covid patients and found they were slower in processing information than non-infected counterparts.  Also, there was no correlation between the severity of the illness (hospitalized verses non-hospitalized) and the loss of brain matter. 

These facts set up a comparison with Alzheimer’s disease where a common symptom is loss of sense of smell along with frontal/temporal lobes pathology.  In fact, some neuro scientists posit that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by chronic inflammation in genetically susceptible individuals to a prior viral infection.  What isn’t known is the potential for brain mass recovery in these individuals.  Neuroplasticity allows marked recovery of the brain from many insults.  Perhaps this will still be true with “Covid brain”.  But for now, I think it’s still best to not catch the illness. 

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