How covid-19 affects our elders: figures
Since the pandemic was declared, various studies have come to light that leave us striking data on the level of impact of the virus on the population, many of them focusing on risk groups, among which are the elderly.
One of these studies is the one carried out by the London School of Economics, which has collected data from Belgium, France, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Norway and has analyzed the deaths attributed to covid19 in each of these countries. Among its conclusions, it can be read that between 33% and 64% of these deaths coincided with people who lived in centers for the elderly.
Regarding the data from Spain, the results showed that 35.8% of the deceased resided in centers for the elderly. It is worth highlighting the fact that this percentage could have been even higher, reaching 69% if the cases not confirmed by diagnosis that presented symptoms compatible with the disease had been taken into account.
Looking at the figures, it is also important to note that confinement in this type of center could have increased the probability of dying from covid-19, multiplying it by 70, compared to confinement at home. Of course, the chances of contagion in a nursing home are greater than being in the usual residence, but is this the only cause of such a high mortality rate among residents? Apparently not.
The explanation could be found in an uncontrolled inflammatory response, through which pneumonitis progresses towards massive alveolar necrosis, respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, or even multi-organ failure
What could be the cause of the high mortality in nursing homes?
In order to understand how this exacerbated inflammatory response can be the cause of such a rate of deaths from covid-19, it is necessary to first understand the concept of immunosenescence. This term refers to the gradual deterioration of the immune system, which is what causes the adaptive immune response needed to combat unknown pathogens to decrease its capacity.
Imagine for a moment such advanced deterioration in older people who do not have specific immune responses to fight covid-19, which, in this case, is the unknown pathogen that we mentioned. How can your body react? With an inflammatory wave that aims to inactivate the virus.
So far it may seem positive, since we can appreciate the body's attempt to deal with something that is harmful to it, but the truth is that in some cases it is not, since an inflammatory response of this type also affects the respiratory tract and the alveolar tissue of the person in which it is activated. Of course, if this confrontation was carried out by a child or an adult whose organism is capable of creating adaptive immunity, the scenario would be completely different.