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Elderly more affected by COVID-19 due to high cell protein content — scientist

The protein in question is ACE2, which facilitates the penetration of the virus into lung tissue cells, according to the researcher

MOSCOW, October 20. /TASS/. The high percentage of the coronavirus infection incidence among the elderly is connected to the higher, compared to younger people, content of the ACE2 protein which facilitates the penetration of the virus into lung tissue cells, Head of the Department of Medical Informatics and Statistics of Sechenov University Andrei Gerasimov said at an online conference on challenges, possibilities and prospects of modern immunoprophylaxis on Tuesday.

"As for COVID-19, the incidence prevails mostly among the elderly. This is related to the fact that it has a peculiar penetration mechanism - in order to penetrate the lung tissue cells it needs the surface ACE2 protein which increases with age. As a result, children who have traditionally been one of the main risk groups [in the case of other viruses - TASS], practically do not get sick. While at the same time the incidence is very high among the elderly who are in the risk group both in terms of catching the infection and of developing serious side effects," he noted.

The scientist pointed out that this is one of the peculiarities of the coronavirus infection compared to other respiratory diseases where the division of society into risk groups is not as pronounced.

According to the latest statistics, about 40 mln people have been infected worldwide and more than 1.11 mln deaths have been reported. To date, 1,431,635 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 1,085,608 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 24,635 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation. ​