Covid and MS disability

Covid-19 may increase MS disability

Infection with Covid-19 accelerates neurological disability in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the first few months from infection, a new study reports.

Researchers in Belgium found that more severe cases of the infection were associated with faster worsening of symptoms of MS. Being vaccinated against Covid-19 offered protection against more severe infection, but it didn’t affect a quicker disability accumulation.

Experts know that infections in general can exacerbate MS symptoms and increase lesions on MRI scans. Some studies have also found neurological symptoms worsen after hospitalisation due to any cause.

Other studies have focused on risk of severe infection with Covid-19 and immune responses to vaccination. Few have looked at how Covid-19 affects MS progression.

This study found disease worsening was seen particularly in those with progressive MS, and in those who were hospitalised with the infection. “Mathematically expressed, a more aggressive course of COVID-19 resulted in a more than 2.5-fold increase of the risk of subsequent clinically relevant EDSS deterioration,” they wrote.

The exact mechanisms involved to exacerbate MS symptoms by Covid-19 remain unknown, but the researchers said that because the infection can trigger neurological symptoms, and this indicates the virus affects the nervous system.

Covid-19 is also associated with temporary loss of brain myelin and spinal cord, which MS patients may have more difficulty in repairing.