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Why The Elderly Are Hit Harder By COVID-19



One of the interesting findings in this prospective study is we actually showed that as you get older, your receptors tend to decrease. As a result, your duration and severity of illness tends to increase, meaning you have a harder course of illness. The receptors wear off as you get older, thus leading to a worse infection. Now with COVID, you look, and you read all these reports that it tends to hit older population, tends to hit people with co-morbidities (obesity, diabetes, all of those weigh in.) What we did in our study was we tested people for expression of this receptor and we looked at it actually completely independent of co-morbidities, meaning if we only look at the receptor status, does that predict severity of illness? And it did. 85% of those requiring hospitalization were in the nontaster group. 0% were in the supertaster group. And of the 15% in the taster group (in the middle group,) the youngest person was 69 and average age was 74. That's a wear-off of the receptors as they get older. When we do look at comorbidities, those did tend to weigh in, but often in the older group who already were more at risk, and so the hospitalization certainly was higher in the older and comorbidities, but that was after their initial barrier of defense, based on their innate immune system.

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