BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fagan Harris got COVID-19 at the beginning of March, but eight weeks later, he is still suffering from the virus.

“I actually have not fully regained my sense of taste,” he told WJZ.

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It’s why a new study looking at the effects the coronavirus has on the brain is so important, according to Doctor Valina Dawson of Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.


“When we see loss of smell or taste, the first thing we think about it, this virus is somehow impacting the brain directly,” she said.

This week, researchers at Johns Hopkins will be using hundreds of what Dr. Dawson refers to as “brain balls,” infecting them with COVID-19, and studying it’s effects.

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One thing in particular researchers will be examining? The proteins in the brain. Proteins that are susceptible to something called “misfolding,” which Dr. Dawson said, could be “disease activating.”

Even though Harris’ worst symptoms from COVID-19 have subsided, he said his immune system is still compromised and he’s now experiencing secondary issues that are still quite serious.

Dr. Dawson said that’s part of the reason they’re studying these effects on the brain, to help better understand the long term effects of the virus.

“You may be fine today, but maybe you will get early onset Alzheimer’s or early onset Parkinson’s disease and we don’t know, but it is possible,” Dr. Dawson said.

Dr. Dawson also stressed that they do not know the findings of this study yet so this is a hypothetical scenario but she hopes to have the preliminary findings in the coming weeks if not months.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos