‘Senior Wave’ Driving Up COVID-19 Hospitalizations: Expert

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There is growing concern among older adults getting hospitalized due to COVID-19 amid the rough respiratory virus season. 

Based on the latest figures from different public health authorities, hospitalizations among seniors are rising fast and even nearing the peak from the delta variant surge last year. 

Dr. Eric Topol, a physician and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, called the phenomenon the “senior wave” since it affects older adults. 

According to him, while younger folks are showing and developing stronger immunity against COVID-19, it’s not the same for seniors who are already immunocompromised due to their age. 

“Right now we have an immunity wall built up against the Omicron family – between shots and prior infections and combinations thereof – that seems to be keeping younger folks in pretty good stead. But the immune systems of people of advanced age are not as strong,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.

Topol acknowledged the new variants as one of the possible culprits behind this phenomenon since they are more immune evasive. However, he noted that “the main culprit [here] is booster deficiency.”

The expert said that since the booster rates are “woefully inadequate,” a rise in hospitalizations, especially in this age group, would be inevitable. 

“It all points to waning immunity. If more seniors had their booster, the effect would be minimal,” he explained. 

Based on official publicly available data, only about a third of the 65 and older population has gotten the updated booster doses. 

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 60% of older adults were worried about the surge in cases and hospitalizations this winter. More than 40% were worried that they would get seriously sick themselves, but almost the same number said they did not plan to get the boosters. 

However, it’s not just the seniors who are at risk. Dr. Preeti Malani, a physician at the University of Michigan Health specializing in infectious diseases and geriatric medicine, told CNN that anyone can get infected and hospitalized. 

“The truth is that, really, anyone can get this. But the older you are, the more likely you are to have severe symptoms, the more likely you are to be hospitalized, and the more likely you are to die,” she said. 

A new study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that the mRNA boosters from Pfizer and Moderna offer a more durable antibody response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, leading to a more efficient and longer protection amid the pandemic.  

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