Abstract

Italy was the first European nation to be affected by COVID-19. The biggest cluster of cases occurred in Lombardy, the most populous Italian region, and elderly men were the population hit in the hardest way. Besides its high infectivity, COVID-19 causes a severe cytokine storm and old people, especially those with comorbidities, appear to be the most vulnerable, presumably in connection to inflammaging. In centenarians inflammaging is much lower than predicted by their chronological age and females, presenting survival advantage in almost all centenarian populations, outnumber males, a phenomenon particularly evident in Northern Italy. Within this scenario, we wondered if: a) the COVID-19 mortality in centenarians was lower than that in people aged between 50 and 80 and b) the mortality from COVID-19 in nonagenarians and centenarians highlighted gender differences.

We checked COVID-19-related vulnerability/mortality at the peak of infection (March 2020), using data on total deaths (i.e. not only confirmed COVID-19 cases). Our conclusion is that excess mortality increases steadily up to very old ages and at the same time men older than 90 years become relatively more resilient than age-matched females.