Another reason to be overly cautious? Russian geriatrician reveals catching Covid-19 may prematurely trigger aging process

It’s been a year since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and scientists are still learning about the virus. In Russia, a senior doctor has noted that the disease may be responsible for kickstarting the aging process.

Speaking to an online conference about the pandemic, Russia’s chief geriatrician said some scientists are making strong links between the virus and rapid increases in a patient’s biological age.

“There are two reasons for this. One is that, naturally, the course of coronavirus infection becomes more severe as you get older,” Olga Tkacheva said on Monday. “The second reason is that perhaps Covid-19 triggers the aging process. This should be taken into account when we talk about the rehabilitation period.”

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As well as coughing, fever, and shortness of breath, she also noted that elderly patients may suffer from delirium – a syndrome accompanied by disturbances in attention, perception, thinking, and emotions.

Tkacheva is the director of the gerontological scientific and clinical center at the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University.

The Russian physician is not the first to reveal aging as being a possible long-term consequence of Covid-19. In October last year, researchers from Imperial College London discovered that some patients recovering from the disease see a mental decline equivalent to their brain having aged by 10 years. Two months later, a doctor from America’s George Mason University revealed that some 40-year-old patients who recovered from the virus were showing internal organ abnormalities typically seen in the elderly. Nonetheless, speaking to Moscow daily RBK, one doctor opined that it was far too early to come to such strong conclusions, with such little time having passed since the start of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, urged the country’s elderly to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Popova noted that most pensioners have remained isolated in the last year and their acquired immunity is therefore the lowest of those within the over-60 age group.

According to its creators, Russia’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, has shown itself to be effective against the novel coronavirus for all age groups.

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