New Study: Novel Coronavirus May Enter Brain Via Nose, Explaining Neuro Symptoms

A study published on Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience says that the novel coronavirus may enter the brain through nose.

That could explain neurological symptoms that are being observed in COVID-19 patients, and help in diagnosis and measures to prevent infection.

According to this latest research, SARS-CoV-2 affects the respiratory tract and also impacts the central nervous system (CNS), leading to symptoms like loss of smell, taste, headache, fatigue and nausea.

Though viral RNA in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid has been found, it’s unclear where the virus enters and how it is distributed within the brain, the Hindustan Times reported.

The researchers, from Charite University Berlin, examined the nasopharnyx — upper part of the throat that connects to the nasal cavity — and brain of 22 male and 11 female patients who died of COVID-19.

According to the researchers, the median age at the time of death was 71.6 years, and the median time span from onset of COVID-19 symptoms till death was 31 days.

They found the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, genetic material of the virus, and protein in the brain and nasopharynx. Virus particles were also detected in the nasopharynx.

SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels were found to be higher in cases with shorter disease duration.

SARS-CoV-2 was found in other areas of nervous system as well, including medulla oblongata — the primary respiratory and cardiovascular control centre of the brain.

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