Ageing and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation and the world, it is clear that age and age-related diseases are major risk factors for severe COVID-19. An important goal is therefore to develop strategies that improve overall health during ageing and protect the immune system from age-related decline. 

The BSRA supports this line of research and we have added a section to our website to provide information and resources on COVID-19 and ageing.

Comment on COVID-19 and ageing from Professor Janet Lord, University of Birmingham

It is clear that the COVID19 virus is a greater health risk for older adults and this is largely due to the ageing of the immune system which increases susceptibility to infection but also alters the response to infection towards a more pro-inflammatory response. It is clear from data emerging from China that patients with poor outcomes have an immune response dominated by macrophage infiltration in the lung and a cytokine storm which leads to multi-organ failure. The inability to dampen down inflammation is a real feature of the aged immune system.

A positive public health message that needs to be promoted is that exercise can improve immunity and this includes repositioning the macrophage response to a more anti-inflammatory response. So it is crucial that older adults try to maintain physical activity and do not become more sedentary during this period of social isolation – this will only make them more susceptible to infections going forward.

Webinar on how ageing research can protect against COVID-19

Watch this webinar hosted by the American Federation on Aging Research on how ageing research can help sustain older adults’ immune health, and protect against COVID-19.

Webinar on how altered immunity during ageing affects SARS-CoV-2 infection

The British Society of Immunology is hosting a webinar series on COVID-19 research. Watch the first webinar on The impact of altered immunity during ageing on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection by Prof Arne Akbar, University College London:

The entire series can be found here.

The Buck Institute series on the biology of ageing and COVID-19

The Buck Institute in California is a research institute focusing on understanding the biology of ageing and now conducting research on ageing and COVID-19. Watch their discussions on the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Read about the potential of ageing treatments to treat COVID-19

Read Alex Zhavoronkov’s piece in Aging Journal on why existing ageing strategies should be tested to treat COVID-19 and other infections affecting the elderly.