The cognitive haze due to Covid-19 could affect the boxer Berchelt

Juan Manuel Vazquez

La Jornada newspaper
Tuesday, February 23, 2021, p. a12

A month before being knocked out, Miguel Berchelt confessed that he would have liked the fight against Óscar Valdez to happen later and not on February 20, as it did in the end. In November 2020, he suffered from Covid-19 and for a few weeks had a strong picture, although without the need for hospitalization. After the period of the illness, the recovery was very difficult, he even said that going back to training became a terrible experience.

The outcome was recorded in the fight on February 20. Berchelt was an unrecognizable version of the champion who defended the title six times. He was knocked out in the 10th inning. Without detracting from Valdez’s work, his rival’s performance was unusual. During the transmission of the fight and in some reports, doubts arose about the consequences that Covid could leave in athletes.

The neuroscience specialist and researcher at the Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo, Jorge Alberto Guzmán Cortés, refers to La Jornada that little is still known about the sequelae that Covid has on brain functions, specifically the so-called cognitive fog, and its impact on the performance of the recovered persons. An even more nascent field when exploring the field of sports.

It is not a diagnosis in Berchelt’s case, the researcher clarifies, but hypothetically there is a probability that the neurological, or cognitive, effects related to the Covid, could have an impact on the way the boxer fell.

This cognitive haze, explains Dr. Guzmán, is already mentioned in some studies and is related to difficulties in thinking and in the execution of certain actions, such as a kind of clumsiness or slowness, as if one were not at full capacity.

A study published by the specialized journal The Journal of NeuroVirology revealed the presence of deficiencies for periods of up to one hundred days in memory and the execution of actions in a group of people who suffered from mild to moderate Covid-19 and who did not need hospitalization. These sequelae could last up to 120 days in some patients with more severe symptoms.

As cases of coronavirus disease increase worldwide, attention needs to be paid to potential long-term neurological impacts for the majority of patients experiencing mild to moderate illness, the study said.

The president of the WBC, Mauricio Sulaimán, comments that it is still a challenge given the unknown of the disease and the questions it raises about its aftermath. However, he points out that the body’s medical commission already analyzes the cases of boxers who have suffered from the disease, although he acknowledges that it is still very uncertain terrain.