This study finds a major cause of COVID-19 death in older people

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In a recent study from the University of Washington and elsewhere, scientists found that the body’s ability to create these cloned cells falls off strongly in older people.

This genetically predetermined limit on the immune system may be the reason why COVID-19 has such a devastating effect on the elderly.

The immune system’s ability to combat COVID-19, like any infection, largely depends on its ability to replicate the immune cells effective at destroying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease.

But these cloned immune cells cannot be infinitely created. The average person’s immune system coasts along pretty well despite this limit until about 50 years old.

That’s when enough core immune cells, called T cells, have shortened telomeres and cannot quickly clone themselves through cellular division in big enough numbers to attack and clear the COVID-19 virus, which has the trait of sharply reducing immune cell numbers.

Importantly, telomere lengths are inherited from parents.

Consequently, there are some differences in these lengths between people at every age as well as how old a person becomes before these lengths are mostly used up.

The key difference between this understanding of aging, which has a threshold for when your immune system has run out of collective telomere length, and the idea that we all age consistently over time is the “most exciting” discovery of his research.

In the study, the team used publicly available data on COVID-19 mortality from the Center for Disease Control and US Census Bureau and studies on telomeres.

They say assembling telomere length information about a person or specific demographic could help doctors know who was less susceptible.

And then they could allocate resources, such as booster shots, according to which populations and individuals may be more susceptible to COVID-19.

The researchers hope doctors begin to understand further the immune system and population responses as a part of natural selection.

If you care about COVID, please read studies that drug combo can effectively fight COVID-19, and previous COVID-19 infection, but not vaccination, improves antibodies.

For more information about Covid, please see recent studies about the cause of severe disease and death in COVID-19, and results showing scientists find antibodies that can neutralize Omicron.

The study is published in The Lancet eBioMedicine and was conducted by James Anderson et al.

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