Centenarians survive COVID-19 better, shows data

Of the 60 of them infected so far, only three have succumbed to the infection; case fatality rate among them is 5%

The State has seen as many as 26,006 children aged below nine and 60 centenarians being infected with COVID-19. Of these, 26 children and only three centenarians have died.

All the three centenarians who died are male patients (one aged 102 and two aged 100) from Bengaluru. None of the them had any co-morbidties. Among the 60 who tested positive, only one centenarian, a 105-year-old female from Chamarajanagar, had hypertension and diabetes. Of the total centenarians, 53% are female patients, according to the State COVID war room data.

Of the total 8,81,086 cases reported till November 27, the highest number has been reported in the age group of 30 to 39 (1,92,539) followed by the 20 to 29 age group (1,80,078).

However, of the total 11,738 COVID-19 fatalities in the State (till November 27), the deaths have been the highest in the 60 to 69 age group, with 3,540 people dying. But, in terms of Case Fatality Rate (CFR), the 90 to 99 age group tops with 11.4% and zero to nine age group is at the bottom with 0.1%. As many as 148 of the 1,300 patients in this 90 to 99 age group have succumbed to the infection.

Significantly, the CFR among the centenarian group is 5%. Except for the 100+ age group, the mortality rate has increased gradually with seniority across age groups.

Doctors, who have been saying that those aged above 60 are more vulnerable to COVID-19, are surprised over the low mortality rate of the senior-most age group.


Less exposure

Anoop Amarnath, member of Karnataka’s COVID-19 Critical Care Support Unit (CCSU), who heads the department of Geriatric Medicine at Manipal Hospitals, said one of the potential reasons for the low mortality among the centenarians could be their less exposure to the virus, as they are usually house-bound.

“Also, immunosenescence — gradual deterioration of the immune system owing to age — could be another reason. If the immune system is very strong, cytokine storms are likely to be high. Most develop severe COVID-19 because of an over-reaction of their immune system, which triggers a syndrome called a cytokine storm. But, if the immune system weakens (immunosenescence), the cytokine storm is not severe. May be this has played a role,” he said.

Pointing out that centenarians usually are healthy, the doctor said, “Most centenarians do not have many co-morbidities and that is probably why they are able to reach that age.”

“The Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Ageing — started in 1958 and is the longest ongoing research on ageing — looks into why some people are resistant to disease and stay healthy till extremes of age,” he said.

Early intervention

V. Ravi, member of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said the low mortality among the centenarians could be because they presented early to hospitals. “Usually, families take utmost care of their elderly and may be they were given medical attention at the earliest,” he added.

Terming this as an old-age paradox, C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said most centenarians would have lived a healthy and disciplined life. “They would led a contented and stress-free life because of which they would not have had co-morbidities,” the doctor added.

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Sagar Biswas

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