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The Latest COVID Concern: Signs of Brain Impairment - Could It Be Long-Term?


Dr. David Perlmutter, one of the nation's leading neurologists, says there's so much we still don't know about the coronavirus. There are even new concerns that COVID-19 could lead to long-term cognitive impairment, and that's one of the reasons Perlmutter says we should focus our efforts on making sure people never get the virus in the first place.
He believes the key to stopping the spread of the disease is to make sure widespread testing is in place before resuming normal activity.

On Tuesday's The 700 Club, Perlmutter said, "Up to 50 percent infected and infectious with respect to the COVID-19 virus may have no symptoms whatsoever. Think about that. When we're screening people going into a grocery store or coming off a plane by taking their temperature, we are at least missing 50 percent of people because they do not have symptoms. And I think the whole issue comes down to the ability we have to test people. That is really front and center in the entire conversation today about relaxing the quarantine and letting people get back to work."


There are currently two types of COVID tests available. One shows whether you are infected with the virus, and the other shows if you have the antibody to it and are therefore potentially immune to contracting it a second time. Neither of these tests is 100 percent accurate, however.

The antibody test is particularly problematic. "We know that it can show false positives. It can indicate that you have antibodies but it could be antibodies to the coronavirus you had years ago. We know that coronaviruses date back to the 1960s. That's when we were first able to identify them," Perlmutter explained.

"So there are a lot of people going around who have antibodies to a coronavirus that cross-react with many of these new tests and give them a sense that they have been exposed this time around when they might not have been," he said.

Perlmutter believes we need much more widespread COVID-19 testing available before life returns to "normal" in America and around the world. 

Does COVID-19 Damage Brains?

There is also new evidence that COVID-19 may have an effect on the brain, and it's not yet known if the brain effects are temporary or permanent. But Dr. Perlmutter called the implications of lingering effects on the brain "profound."

"One study in the New England Journal of Medicine just a few days ago found that more than half of people admitted to the hospital [with COVID-19] have confusion," Perlmutter said. "But I think what was more compelling was that about a third of those released from the hospital have reserve neurological issues, meaning problems with executive function – planning purposeful activities; problems with inattention. So we do not know how much of those residual problems will be persistent in the long run. But if this infection leaves people with brain issues, cognitive issues, it is a clear story we are going to be telling moving forward. And it really raises our concerns and clearly focuses our efforts on keeping people from getting this virus in the first place," he said. 

To see Pat Robertson's entire interview with Dr. David Perlmutter on Tuesday's 700 Club, click on the box above.

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