It has to be one of the misguided articles in the New York Times. Covid’s Risk to Older Adults by David Leonhardt.
The article quotes Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington and presumably an expert:
“I think the risk is not super high for relatively healthy and boosted people in their 70s,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me. “I think it’s moderate at most.”
So what more do we need to know? This response echoes other comments from doctors about Covid-19. which I reported in this article. But if we stopped there, we’d have no story to fill the Times column-inches.
Baseman goes on to say “that if she were in her 70s, her primary worry would be getting moderately ill, needing standard medical care and not being able to get it at an overwhelmed hospital.”
Wait….being moderately ill isn’t the same as having moderate risk. Moderately ill patients are defined as needing hospital care but not “organ support..”
It’s not clear what’s meant by “moderate risk.” The only definition I could find refers to long-term health conditions that aren’t immediately life-threatening but could cause problems later, such as pre-diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Regardless, we’ve got some muddy thinking here.
Even worse, the article lumps all 75-year-old women together. The author seems to have listened to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” a few too many times. Many 75-year-old women have comorbidities. Many live in some form of assisted living or even nursing homes. Without controlling for those factors, the numbers are meaningless…and of no particular relevance to any 75-year-old reading this article. You have “older” people like Willie Murphy, the body-builder who attacked a burglar in her home. You have people like the late Olga Kotelko, who died at 93 a few weeks after competing in track and field events. You have thousands of men and women competing in senior games…and even more who are healthy and trying to stay that way, despite the best efforts of their doctors.
The 75-year-old women I know are less concerned of dying from Covid than of living long enough to end up in nursing homes, where 25-40% of the residents are abused. Every time an article gets published about the horrors of these homes, hundreds of readers write comments to express their wish for easier access to assisted dying.
They’re frustrated with doctors who treat them like children, catastrophize minor problems or dismissively ask, “What do you expect, at your age?” They’re tired of doctors who lack understanding of the physiology of people over 50 and who impose meaningless tests, such as EKG’s with an 80% false positive rate that were never intended for screening healthy people.
At a certain point in life people stop fearing death. They’re more concerned with how they will die and how to avoid. the tortures conceived by the medical industrial complex. After all, spies in World War II got cyanide pills they could use to avoid torture; nobody suggested they see a psychiatrist first. They knew torture when they saw it, and so do older people today.
Articles like this portray older people as uniformly weak and unhealthy. They make it difficult (if not impossible) for anyone over 6o to be taken seriously. I shudder to think how many well-meaning adult children will insist that their healthy parents take precautions that will do little to affect their health and well-being, but do more to take away meaning and happiness from the time they have left.