As the pandemic rages on across the globe, scientists have started identifying a chilling pattern: An estimated one-third of people infected with COVID-19 develop neurological symptoms including strokes, headaches, and disturbed consciousness. In some brains, COVID causes molecular changes that mirror those seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, leading some scientists to believe that long COVID may be an atypical form of the memory-destroying disorder. There are also larger concerns that damage to the brain caused by COVID may put individuals at an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. The downstream effects on long-term health are far from understood, but dramatic preliminary evidence suggests a complicated alignment with Alzheimer’s disease.
Amid an overall push to better understand long COVID—on April 5, President Joe Biden ordered a new research initiative across federal agencies—there is also a worldwide effort to study this insidious link to Alzheimer’s, with various groups racing to understand the overlap between COVID and neurological harm. In New Jersey, one project stands out for incorporating another critical overlapping factor: the people at high risk of developing both severe COVID and Alzheimer’s. To read the full story.