A pattern is emerging among COVID-19 patients arriving at hospitals in New York: Beyond fever, cough and shortness of breath, some are deeply disoriented to the point of not knowing where they are or what year it is. At times this is linked to low oxygen levels in their blood, but in certain patients the confusion appears disproportionate to how their lungs are faring.
However, since loss of smell is a common symptom of the coronavirus, some have hypothesized the nose might be the pathway to the brain. This remains unproven — and the theory is somewhat undermined by the fact that many patients experiencing anosmia don’t go on to have severe neurological symptoms. In the case of the novel coronavirus, doctors believe based on the current evidence the neurological impacts are more likely the result of overactive immune response rather than brain invasion. To prove the latter even happens, the virus must be detected in cerebrospinal fluid.