Elderly most at risk

Statistics prove the elderly population to be more susceptible to serious illnesses and death as a result of Covid-19 . By now we have all been cautioned that the elderly population is most at risk when dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, strict guidelines have been put in place to help protect this vulnerable population. As of now we know elderly individuals are highly at risk and should practice the most social distancing. We also know as according to Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, that Covid-19 results in fatality in 13.4% of patients 80 and older, compared to only 1.25% of those in their 50s and 0.3% of those in their 40s. This research also suggests the main divide to occur between those aged 60 and 70, with only 4% of those aged 60 suffering fatalities versus the doubled fatality rate among those in their 70’s. Now scientist are conducting further investigation to determine just why these age groups are more vulnerable to this virus and why some suffer a more severe response than others.

Pre-existing conditions and immune age

As we have recently learned preexisting conditions play a large role in the elderly’s susceptibility to Covid related complications but other indications suggest biological aging may also play a role here. Although age and the immune system age seem to be working together here to determine ones fate. For example, an individual aged 80 with a stronger immune system may have a better chance fighting off the virus when compared to a 60 year old with preexisting illnesses and a weaker immune system. Immunologist have also  identified changes in the immunes system linked to age and how they factor into these fatality rates. Our immune system utilizes both leukocytes and T cells to fight off any invading microbes such as viral infections. As we age the body has fewer T cells and thus, fewer resources to combat infections.

Depleted T-Cells

When dealing with Covid-19, the elderly have fewer T cells to fight off these new and unknown microbes. Therefore, the elderly have fewer defenses against the virus as opposed to the younger population. Additionally, the elderly also have a weaker immune memory putting them more at risk for re-infection as the body may fail to recognize these microbes as they return. Whereas, a stronger immune memory as displayed in the younger ,may remember a virus it has already combatted making complications less likely.

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