Hereditary genes can cause severe Covid-19 in older people

The leading biomedical journal Lancet eBioMedicine states that our body’s ability to produce powerful new cells that hold back the body’s immune system falls off as we age.

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Elderly COVID
The elderly may be more susceptible to COVID (Image: Amir Arabshahi, Unsplash)

Covid-19 has a fatal effect on the health of the elderly due to genetically arranged limits on the immune system. Scientists at the University of Washington noted that our body’s capacity to fight Covid-19 is dependent on the multiplication of immune cells which destroy the SARS virus. Aging decreases the body’s ability to reproduce those immune cells.

Lymphopenia is an ailment when the blood does not contain enough white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphopenia is the most dangerous hazard caused due to Covid-19 and is found mostly in older people as their immunity levels are low.

How does the division of cells affect the telomeres?

As per the model created by a research professor at the University of Washington, James Anderson, the main reason behind the harmful effect of Covid-19 on the older generation was the genetically predetermined limit on the immune system. Researchers have put down a detailed study linking the age factor with Covid-19 mortality.

In a statement issued by the University of Washington, and published in Business Standard, Anderson stated that the DNA gets split during cell division. Once a set of replications are done, it gets short and then stops further division. Anderson also explained that humans’ immune cells have limitations in their life, but for animals, there are no limitations in their cell life.

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The core immune cells, which are called the T-cells, have short telomeres. So, once a person starts aging and crosses 50, these cells cannot normally duplicate to protect one from the SARs Virus. The immune system works well till you are 50 years old. Anderson told the journalists of Business Standard that the telomere lengths are inherited from our parents.

How does Covid-19 harm our immune cells?

The telomere lengths are different for people of all ages, and these get used up as people grow old. Once the lengths are totally used up, the health of the older people gets affected. And Covid-19 virus sharply reduces the number of immune cells.

Anderson’s research has made him understand the process of aging when the immune system exhausts and the common telomere length gets reduced. However, it is also true that a person’s life depends on their parents. So, the response to Covid-19 depends on who the person was at the time of birth.

Treatment to be conducted based on the study

Anderson told Business Standard that the length of telomeres of people would help the doctors know who is more inclined to the SARs 2 virus. And based on the risk, booster shots can be given to people.

Anderson stated that being a modeler, he was testing things through mathematical equations and was understanding things by working with biologists. On the contrary, the biologists worked with his model to understand the theory.

 

Allegedly, the shortening of telomere cells may make the elderly more vulnerable. But the younger population with inherent short telomere are also prone to Covid-19 T-cell Lymphopenia and other diseases.

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