THERE is absolutely no excuse for MP Margaret Ferrier’s conduct over her coronavirus positive test, but there may perhaps be an explanation.

In the past few weeks, more and more scientists and Covid-19 victims have been reporting on the phenomenon of “brain fog” associated with the onset of the virus, and remarks by Ferrier in the past 48 hours indicate that she may well have been suffering from the neurological symptoms which researchers have proven are linked to the disease and which in some cases can last for months.


IT is a recognised neurological condition, described in a New York Times article over the weekend as “troubling cognitive symptoms that can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty focussing, dizziness and grasping for everyday words. Increasingly, Covid survivors say brain fog is impairing their ability to work and function normally.”

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Many of the victims have described the panic and confusion that erupted into their minds even before other symptoms of Covid-19 began to show themselves.

One sufferer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The National she “just couldn’t think straight or concentrate on anything” before she developed other symptoms.

It’s the long-term damage that the virus has on minds which is really now worrying scientists.


FIRST of all, the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West is not using brain fog as an excuse, though perhaps once people learn about the effects of Covid-19 on the brain there may be more understanding of why she, as she admitted, panicked and jumped on the train home after testing positive.

Ferrier told the Scottish Sun on Sunday: “A lot of people say Covid makes you do things out of character. You are not thinking straight. I’m not making an excuse.

“At that moment when I thought it would come back negative and it was positive I was utterly shocked. You could have knocked me over.”

She went further yesterday, describing how she was worried about her mental health even as she approved a statement drafted for her by the SNP, which has subsequently withdrawn the whip.

Ferrier said: “I just felt it was very pushy. You’ve just been told you have Covid. You’re stressed, with a lot of things going through your mind.

“You’re wanting somebody to help you. I said at that point ‘hang on a minute – as soon as this goes out am I going to be bombarded with abuse?’

“They were not considering the fact that I had only been diagnosed with Covid and I don’t know how that’s going to affect my mental state.”


TOP experts in the fields of neurology and virology in the USA have sounded a worrying note about long-term effects on the mind, and as yet there is no definite diagnosis of why Covid-19 causes brain fog in people many weeks after testing positive.

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Dr Avindra Nath, chief of infections of the nervous system at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, told the New York Times: “The simplest answer is people still have persistent immune activation after the initial infection subsided.”

In other words the body’s own immune system could be affecting the brains of victims. MRI scans haven’t found any actual brain damage, but the possibility that the immune system is affecting cells in the brains of sufferers cannot be ruled out.

Other researchers are worried about other aspects of mental health which have been affected by Covid-19. There have been calls in the USA for long-term sufferers to be treated as if they have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


EVEN by his standards, President Donald Trump’s behaviour at the first presidential debate against Joe Biden was so massively over-the-top that people queried his mental state. Only later did we find out that he might well have had Covid-19 that night.

Again it’s absolutely no excuse, but Dominic Cummings described feeling “weird” before his trip north in the early stages of his encounter with Covid-19.

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier's Covid breach: The full timeline of events as we know it

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took some time to get fully back to work and there are continuing reports of his problems with concentration.


THE Scottish Government yesterday published the SCOVID Mental Health Tracker Study showing that 35.7% of the sample of more than 2000 people reported high levels of psychological distress and a possible psychiatric disorder – not specifically brain fog – during the pandemic so far.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “We know that the pandemic has brought about new and substantial challenges for everyone in Scotland. Our mental health is no exception to this.”