A former Commissioner of Health in Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris, says older population comprising people age 65 and over die of COVID-19 because of the peculiarities associated with their age.
The World Health Organisation says although all age groups are at risk of contracting COVID-19, older people face significant risk of developing severe illness if they contract the disease due to physiological changes that come with ageing and potential underlying health conditions.
The United States Centres for Disease Control also note that older persons are at greater risk of requiring hospitalisation or dying if diagnosed with COVID-19.
The CDC said the risk for severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.
“For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s.
“Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s.
“The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.
“Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may require: hospitalization,
intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die,” the CDC said.
It added that age increases risk for hospitalisation, as older adults are at greater risk of requiring hospitalisation or dying if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.
“As you get older, your risk of being hospitalised for COVID-19 increases,” CDC warned.
Again, experts at online portal Biomed Central say persons age 65 or older had 7.7 times higher COVID-19 death rates than those between the ages of 55 and 64 years; just as researchers at online peer-reviewed journal, Nature, warn that the risk of dying from COVID-19 increases significantly with age.
“studies reveal that age is by far the strongest predictor of an infected person’s risk of dying — a metric known as the infection fatality ratio (IFR), which is the proportion of people infected with the virus, including those who didn’t get tested or show symptoms, who will die as a result.
“COVID-19 is not just hazardous for elderly people, it is extremely dangerous for people in their mid-fifties, sixties and seventies,” says Andrew Levin, an economist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who has estimated that getting COVID-19 is more than 50 times more likely to be fatal for a 60-year-old than is driving a car.
Speaking during a radio programme Discuss With Jimi Disu on Saturday, ex-commissioner Idris noted that COVID has been politicised globally, laying emphasis on the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the WHO’s attempt to unravel the pandemic’s origin in China, as well as other issues surrounding the vaccine development and attempts by rich country to appropriate as much of the vaccine as possible.
The physician noted that COVID-19 mortality rate is still lower than that of Ebola, having killed between one and three percent of those infected so far.
“People dying are mostly affluent,” Idris noted.
“Is it a spiritual attack” host Jimi Disu asked, to which Mr. Idris said, “The infection was
brought in from outside, and the same set of people mingle together, they go to specialist hospitals because are borders locked, otherwise, they would have opted for overseas treatment.”
Continuing, Idris noted that people aged 65 and over are far fewer in number compared to young generation and that the age group experiences higher number of mortalities because of their probable health conditions.
“They also have comorbidities because of their health issues,” Idris said.
Discussing why Nigeria’s COVID-19 mortality rate is rather low ehen compared to what is going on globally, Idris said it might not be unconnected to people’s overexposure to infectious environment.
“We are subjected to biological insults because of dirty environment. Nigerians have immunity because of exposure to environmental pollutants.
“More people die of TB and malaria than COVID-19. More children die of malnutrition than COVID-19.
“Lassa fever is killing more people than COVID-19 is doing,” Idris said.
Asked by host Jimi Disu if the fatality rate wasn’t alarming, Idris said, “It is alarming; even one death must worry us because our job as leaders or physicians is to prevent citizens from dying.”
He commended that Lagos State Government’s management of the pandemic so far.
“Lagos has done extremely well in controlling COVID-19, having had experience in disaster management, including building collapse, pipeline fires, etc.”
He, however, noted that nationally, the situation is different.
“Nigeria wasn’t prepared for the pandemic,” Idris said.
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