Are You Protecting Your Brain from Covid-19?

Kitanya Harrison
5 min readDec 13, 2023


Taking Active Steps to Keep Your Brain Safe from Covid-19 is a Competitive Advantage

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Your brain is your greatest asset. You should protect it with all the tools available to you. I began thinking about this in new ways in March of 2022. I was returning to social media from a long hiatus, and one of the first tweets that resonated with me was a post from a corporate recruiter. (I wish I had bookmarked the tweet, so I could give appropriate credit.) It was her job to screen for C-suite level executives. One of her hard lines was a candidate's approach to Covid-19. She dismissed people with cavalier attitudes to catching Covid-19 because this demonstrated that they weren't invested in protecting their brains.

Covid-19 can cause long-term brain damage. That is a stark and frightening sentence. It's also true. Among the first signs in the early stages of the pandemic that Covid-19 had deleterious effects on the brain was patients reporting anosmia – loss of smell and taste (two out of the five senses). These symptoms became something of a punchline, leading many to dismiss the symptoms as "mild." A well-respected biorisk consultant I've discussed the issue with says anosmia was one of the things that frightened him the most about Covid-19 because of what it might indicate about future illness.

Being sick with a virus doesn't end with your symptoms (cough, fever, etc.) clearing after the acute phase of the infection. Post-infection sequelae (e.g., shingles developing years after chicken pox) also have to be considered. In the case of lingering anosmia, it is one of the early indicators of Parkinson's Disease, which is caused, in part, by environmental factors that can include viral infections. This detail is what scared the biorisk consultant.

Covid-19 also causes severe "brain fog" in some patients that lasts for months or even years. People lose the ability to concentrate and think clearly. They experience difficulty performing familiar tasks and have trouble with executive function. One of the more dangerous ways this presents itself is reckless driving.

Covid-19 has also been shown to accelerate the progression of dementia. It's anecdotal, but I've heard reports of formerly highly skilled employees forgetting the basic protocols involved in their work. People can't recall having had certain conversations and re-raise issues multiple times. Others are sending emails with no text in the body, as a matter of course.

If your business relies on people who have highly specialized skills and are difficult to replace, Covid-19 prevention needs to become a top priority, if it isn't already. If you are one such specialist, you may have to get out ahead of this on your own with little support. No matter your rank on the employment ladder – specialist or grunt – you should learn more about Covid-19 mitigation to safeguard your future employment and quality of life.

The pandemic is not over! This is an ultra marathon, and, like any marathon, it requires discipline to get to the finish line. Part of that discipline is taking the necessary steps to mitigate against becoming (re)infected. Effects on the brain are only part of a litany of debilitating long-term health issues (e.g., autoimmune diseases, heart problems, exercise intolerance, extreme fatigue) that are grouped under the umbrella of Long Covid. In addition, we are in the very early stages of this. Shingles may take decades to appear after a bout with chicken pox. The virus that causes Covid-19 forms reservoirs in the organs of the body (including the placenta of pregnant women). We have no idea what may be coming down the line five, ten or 20 years from now.

Posts like this generate a lot of heated back-and-forth about Covid being like a cold, immunity debt, Covid cautiousness as anxiety, and other arguments that minimize the need to take Covid-19 seriously. Do you know who doesn't care about your perception of the robustness of your immune system? Actuaries. The insurance industry has described the death and disability rates they're seeing as one-in-200-year events. Insurers have already begun adding strict Covid-19 exclusion language to relevant policies. They do not do this with colds and "mild" viral infections. If you aspire to a position in your industry that will make you a "key person" in employment contracts or mergers and acquisitions agreements and require you be insured, your Covid-19 status will become relevant in the near future (if it hasn't already).

Multiple bouts of Covid-19 increase the risk of a bad long-term outcome. Believe it or not, there are people who have yet to be infected. Some have been infected only once. They can and will outcompete people who have had multiple infections on the insurability issue alone. In addition, they've safeguarded their key asset – their brains – in ways others haven't, in the face of enormous social pressure to do otherwise. This demonstrates tenacity, determination, grit, willingness to make sacrifices, and the ability to see the big picture and think long-term.

If you consider your brain to be your greatest asset, protect it from Covid-19. If you’ve already had Covid-19, do your best to avoid getting reinfected. The most important first step you can take is to remember that the virus that causes Covid-19 is airborne. It travels like smoke and lingers in the air. Even an empty room may not be safe. Wear a properly fitted respirator like an N95 when you’re indoors. These often look like sturdier surgical masks and aren’t prohibitively expensive. Even though the risk is lower, keep your mask on when you’re outdoors in the vicinity of other people. Cleaning the air you share with HEPA filters or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes is also very helpful and not as expensive as you might think. If your climate and building allow it, opening windows to allow proper ventilation is free.

Vaccination does not prevent infection, and it was never advertised as such. Non-pharmaceutical interventions are the only way to avoid infection. It may be annoying and inconvenient, but if you can "out-grind" your competitors, out-masking them should be light work.

I regularly share information about Covid-19, similar dangers, and how they affect professionals on LinkedIn.




Kitanya Harrison