It is widely accepted that the people at high risk of developing symptoms of COVID-19 belong to the geriatric population. Also, people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, etc. are another group at high risk of coronavirus.
Why Elders And Children Are More At Risk Of Corona Virus?
Older people have been significantly affected by the pandemic which makes it important to understand why they’re at high risk in the first place. In the case of children, they’ve often left out form high-risk category simply because they exhibit mild symptoms. But, children are also at risk for coronavirus. Let us look at the exact reasons behind this.
Why Are Elders At Risk For Developing Corona Virus?
• Decline in immune function
When a virus enters the human body, the immune system gets activated and recognizes the virus as a foreign body in order to destroy it. In the geriatric population, a decline in the immune function is commonly seen. They just cannot respond effectively like a normal, healthy individual’s immune system does.
• Low production of white blood cells
Yet another reason why elders are more at risk of coronavirus is due to the reduction in the production of white blood cells (WBCs). Also called leukocytes, they are an important part of the immune system. They are produced in the bone marrow but circulate throughout the bloodstream. Since the white blood cells are not extensively produced in old age individuals, there will not be enough to fight infection.
• Takes more time to identify the foreign agent
In order to effectively fight a virus, the body needs to identify the foreign agent as soon as it enters the body. This is to prevent the damage of other body organs. For instance, coronavirus should be destroyed before it damages the lungs. Severe breathing issues can stem from an affected lung. In older people, the time taken to identify a foreign agent is more when compared to a healthy individual. This leaves room for a higher risk of developing COVID-19 in elderly individuals.
• Destroys own cells
Another important function of the immune system is to attack the virus and not the healthy cells. A healthy immune system destroys the foreign agent without causing harm to the body’s own cells. But in an old individual, there is a chance that their immune system cannot effectively distinguish between their own cells and the foreign agents. This is similar to what happens in autoimmune disease. The immune system ultimately destroys one’s own cells making the effects of coronavirus worse.
• Antibody malfunction
In a healthy individual, as soon as a virus enters, the body prepares antibodies to attach to the virus and destroy it. In older people, the ability of the antibodies to attach to the virus becomes poor which results in the antibodies leaving the virus not able to fight it off. This is often the explanation as to why older people find it difficult to recover from pneumonia and other less severe diseases.
In short, it is simply due to the physiological changes that take place in the elderly population that they’re at higher risk of developing coronavirus. These changes include aging, decreased functioning of the immune system, et cetera. They are likely to suffer much more than other individuals and can even develop serious complications.
Are Children At Risk Of Developing Corona Virus?
Talking about children, they’re not considered as a high-risk population for developing coronavirus. Yes, it is proven that the virus can affect people of any ages but studies have shown that children are at a lower risk when compared to the elderly population. But this doesn’t mean that they are resistant to the virus.
A few studies have pointed out that children are vulnerable to COVID 19 but it is not much talked about due to the mild symptoms they exhibit when compared to an elderly population. Also, children are not exposed to the virus as most of them are safe at home.
It is mandatory to keep in mind that regardless of age, everyone should be cautious about the coronavirus pandemic. Maintaining proper hygiene and social distancing are definitely not to be overlooked. The rates at which the virus spreads are pretty scary and we have to stick on to our duty as citizens to stop the pandemic.