Articles Medicine Articles Virology Articles

Why Does COVID-19 Disproportionately Affect the Elderly?

Published time: 30 April 2020

Authors: Amber L. Mueller, Maeve S. McNamara, David A. Sinclair

Keywords: obesity, survival, diabetes, virus, death, patients, treatments, COVID-19


The severity and outcome of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) largely depend on a patient’s age. Over 80% of hospitalizations are those over 65 years of age with a greater than 23-fold greater risk of death. In the clinic, COVID-19 patients most commonly present with fever, cough, and dyspnea. Particularly in those over 65, it can progress to pneumonia, lung consolidation, cytokine release syndrome, endothelitis, coagulopathy, multiple organ failure, and death. Comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension increase the chances of a fatal disease, but they alone do not explain the variability in COVID-19 symptoms. Here, we present the molecular differences between the young, middle-aged, and elderly that may determine whether COVID-19 is a mild or life-threatening illness. We also discuss several biological age clocks that could be used in conjunction with genetic tests to identify both the mechanisms of the disease and individuals most at risk. Finally, based on these mechanisms, we discuss treatments that could increase survival in the elderly, not simply by inhibiting the virus, but by restoring patients’ ability to clear the infection.

Why Does COVID-19 Disproportionately Affect the Elderly



Leave a Comment