Old People are Favorite Target of Coronavirus

Patients older than 65 years of age with previously reported diseases are at an increased of dying if infected with coronavirus. They are also at an increased risk of acquiring the virus as well. These findings were reported in a study published by medical journal The Lancet today. The study also reports that death rate of adult patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia is quite high.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is closely related to a known bat SARS-like coronavirus. This indicates that bats are a likely origin for this virus. Initial genomic information of the virus indicates a recent emergence in human population and a rapidly spreading infection.

SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, from where it spread across China and beyond. After the gene of the virus was sequenced, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) (8). WHO named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19.

The global death toll is now 2,628 and a total of 79,737 cases have been reported worldwide, till today. The disease can have symptoms like coughs, fever, breathing difficulties and pneumonia. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure and death.

The newly published study did not report any funding source. The study’s objective was to take a bird’s eye view of the critically ill adult patients with coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The data was collected at the intensive care unit (ICU) of Wuhan Jin Yin-tan Hospital between late December 2019 and January 26, 2020.

Data was collected on demographic details of the patients, symptoms, laboratory test values, treatments, comorbidities and clinical outcomes. Observed clinical outcomes were death within 28 days, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and the proportion of patients on ventilators.

The participants included 52 critically ill patients of which 35 were men. The single-centered, retrospective, observational study showed that the most common symptoms included fever, cough and dysponea (shortness of breath). It was observed that the patients who died due to the coronavirus survived only for 1 or 2 weeks after acquiring the infection.

It was seen that older individuals, who had developed ARDS and were on mechanical ventilation, were more likely to die. Most patients had organ damage, ARDS, cardiac injury, liver dysfunction, pneumothorax and required ventilation. Nearly 14% patients also acquired hospital infections. This calls for increased interventions for patients who are older and at risk of acquiring this infection due to their geographic condition.

These results are in line with the previous studies published on the subject. Previously, it has been seen that men aged more than 65 are more likely to be infected with the virus and die.

However, these finding are preliminary and only obtained from observational studies. So, drawing strict conclusions can be harmful when it comes to public health policies. Right now, the severity of the viral infection is putting a great strain on critical care resources in hospitals and research centers, especially the ones who are already overextending themselves.

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