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A new study suggests that COVID-19 might shrink parts of the brain.

The study‘s results were mentioned by former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on the Sunday news program “Face the Nation” on CBS as another example of why it is so important that unvaccinated people get inoculated. The results also underscore how evidence is mounting that people can still suffer from illness related to COVID-19 many months after infection, a condition known as “long COVID.”

“Certain areas of their brain showed a decline in actual tissue — a shrinkage of parts of their brain,” Gottlieb said on the news program. “It’s very concerning because it does suggest that the virus could be having a direct effect on certain portions of the brain. … And I think what it suggests is that the balance of the information that we’re accruing does indicate that COVID is a disease that could create persistent symptoms.”

Some of those persistent illnesses long after coronavirus infection include ongoing abnormally fast heart rates, Gottlieb said, which might be explained as a result of COVID-19 damaging the body’s nervous system.

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