A great part of the reason most worldwide are advised to stay at home and isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic is so as to protect the elderly and more vulnerable from the coronavirus, as well as those with higher risk due to existing health conditions.
As the scientific community works hard towards creating an effective coronavirus treatment, these stories of elderly people who beat the coronavirus provide a glimmer of hope during these difficult times.
1. 79-year-old Italian man treated with experimental coronavirus treatment
The experimental drug remdesivir, which was originally developed by U.S. drug firm Gilead as a potential treatment for Ebola, was one of the first signs of hope amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the first treatments to have shown promise against the disease caused by the coronavirus. Perhaps one of the most impressive cases to have been cured by the drug is that of a 79-year-old Italian man who had tested positive and was given the all-clear after taking the drug.
2. 90-year-old Seattle resident is a beacon of hope
The family of a 90-year-old woman who was infected with COVID-19 at Life Care Center senior care facility in Seattle has reported that she has recovered from the disease. As per CBS News, Life Care Center experienced a massive spread of the virus in mid-February. An investigation by the CDC showed that 62% of the roughly 130 elderly residents had become infected and a quarter had died.
Geneva Wood, the 90-year-old resident who survived, shows that, despite the fact that health officials say the elderly are more vulnerable, people of any age can recover from COVID-19. Even more impressively, Wood was recovering from a stroke when she was diagnosed with the disease.
3. 91-year-old patient cured in the city of Yichang
When the coronavirus hadn't yet been announced a pandemic, and many still believed it might be contained at a manageable level worldwide, China's struggles with the outbreak showed the world what was to come. One ray of hope at the time was the case of a 91-year-old patient, with the surname Wang, who was cured in the city of Yichang in February.
"I am very happy to be cured," Wang told Chinese news agency Xinhua. "I want to thank all the medical staff for their treatment and organizations at all levels for their concern and care."
At the time, Wang was the oldest patient in China to be cured. The patient's case strengthened the confidence of primary-level medical institutions in the cure of elderly and severe patients of the coronavirus, Du Debing, deputy head of Yichang hospital, said at the time.
4. 93-year-old man and 88-year-old wife recover in India
A 93-year-old man in India became the oldest person in the country to survive after being infected by COVID-19, Fox News reported on April 1. The man and his 88-year-old wife, both from the state of Kerala, are two of the roughly 635 people who have recovered from the virus in India.
India has recorded 6,725 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 635 deaths at the time of writing.
5. 94-year-old ex-nurse becomes UK's oldest woman to recover from COVID-19
A great grandmother and ex-nurse in the UK, called Joy, was discharged at the end of March after having tested positive for the coronavirus. Joy, who asked for her surname not to be revealed, had struggled with the infection for nine days at James Paget Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk, UK, before being discharged.
Retired nurse Joy told Metro she was "absolutely overjoyed" and was impressed at the hospital for "helping so many people." As in many countries worldwide, the UK is currently working hard to provide enough intensive care beds for the surge of patients it is seeing.
6. 95-year-old recovers amidst crisis in Italy
At the time of writing, Italy has 143,626 confirmed cases and 18,279 deaths from COVID-19. The country has the highest death toll in the world as a consequence of the coronavirus — in such situations, any glimmer of hope means something. That's why the story of an Italian 95-year-old grandmother that has recovered from the virus has captured global attention.
At 95, Alma Clara Corsini was likely the oldest woman in Italy to recover from the coronavirus at the time of discharge. As Gazzetta Di Modena reports, Corsinig recovered without antiviral therapy, the coronavirus treatment used in the majority of cases worldwide, as she showed few symptoms.
7. 95-year-old war veteran's positive coronavirus story
William Kelly, a 95-year-old veteran of WWII, who also lived through the Great Depression, can now also say he has beaten the coronavirus.
Kelly said that the biggest support in his fight, in which he faced some tough moments, was his family:
"I had two or three pretty tough nights and evenings where I had problems with my lower [body], my legs, and my back — difficulty getting rest — because it was very uncomfortable trying to sleep. Other than that, though, you work your way through it. Do as you're told. And I got some good help here," Kelly told ABC News.
8. 98-year-old woman cured of COVID-19 in Wuhan
A 98-year-old woman was discharged at the beginning of March from a hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded. The woman, identified by her last name Hu, was treated at a makeshift Leishenshan Hospital alongside her 55-year-old daughter, who was also infected with coronavirus, Xinhua reported.
Hu had been in a critical condition with a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, but a coronavirus treatment, in the form of anti-viral medications and other medicines, was administered, leading to a full recovery.
9. 98-year-old bishop of Nanyang with prior health conditions recovers
The 98-year-old bishop of Nanyang, Msgr. Joseph Zhu Baoyu was the oldest known patient to have recovered from coronavirus when he was discharged. The pastor fell ill with COVID-19 pneumonia on February 2. Thankfully, on February 14, he tested negative and on February 14 after his lungs were declared to be free of the infection.
Msgr. Zhu was treated at the central hospital in Nanyang, AsiaNewsreports. What makes his case particularly impressive is the fact that he had prior health conditions, including arrhythmia and pleural effusions, and he still recovered. Msgr. Zhu has healed thanks to a thoracic drainage catheter, a procedure used as a coronavirus treatment in extreme cases.
10. Man from Wuhan celebrated centenary and beating coronavirus in the same year
A 100-year-old man recovered from the coronavirus and was discharged at the beginning of March, CNN reported. The centenarian one of 80 coronavirus patients discharged at roughly the same time from the branch of Hubei's Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital at the Optics Valley in Wuhan.
The man was born in February 1920. As such, he had only just celebrated his 100th birthday when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He had underlying health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, and heart failure, and received a range of different types of coronavirus treatment, state-run Xinhua reported.
11. 101-year-old patient recovered in a week
Another elderly patient infected and recovered in Wuhan has been identified by his surname, Dai. The 101-year-old recovered in only a week after being admitted to Wuhan Third Hospital, Hubei Province, The Sun reports.
Ward matron Li Lai said that Mr. Dai was worried about his wife, 92, who was alone at home. As Li Lai explained, the pensioner had focused on getting "better soon so he could go home and take care of her."
12. 101-year-old Italian man gives "hope for the future"
A 101-year-old man from the coastal Italian city Rimini, was born during the 1918 Spanish Flu, lived through two World Wars, and, at the time of his discharge from hospital, became the oldest person to recover from COVID-19 in Italy, Interesting Engineering reported.
As Gloria Lisi, Vice-Mayor of Rimini said, the man, referred to only as Mr.P, became “the story everyone talked about” in the hospital. “Everyone saw hope for the future of all of us in the recovery of a person more than 100 years old," she explained.
13. 102-year-old "immortal" woman coronavirus survivor
Italica Grondona, a 102-year-old Italian woman, survived the coronavirus after being admitted to hospital in early March with heart failure. Since then, she has made a full recovery, leading her doctors to nickname her "'Highlander'-the immortal."
Impressively, Grondona's doctors believe she was also infected with the Spanish flu at a young age in 1918 — making her one of the very few patients worldwide to have survived being infected during these two epidemics.
Just as impressive is the fact that she recovered by herself after showing almost no symptoms. "We did very little, she recovered on her own,” Grondona's doctor, Vera Sicbaldi, told CNN.
14. 103-year-old Wuhan woman beats the coronavirus
103-year-old Wuhan resident Zhang Guangfen recovered from COVID-19 after receiving coronavirus treatment for just seven days.
The centenarian's speedy recovery was largely down to the fact that she had no serious underlying health conditions; aside from a mild case of chronic bronchitis, her doctor Dr. Zeng Yulan told Chutian Metropolis Daily. She was diagnosed at Liyuan Hospital, Tongji Medical College, in Wuhan on March 1, and was discharged on the 8th.
15. 103-year-old Iranian woman shows an impressive recovery
A 103-year-old Iranian woman successfully recovered after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. According to Nevid Danayi, the rector of Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, the elderly woman was the second-oldest person to have recovered from coronavirus when she was discharged from the hospital.
16. U.S. Army veteran is amongst world's oldest coronavirus survivors
American World War II veteran, Bill Lapschies, celebrated his 104th birthday with a social distancing party, only days after he was discharged from hospital after making a full recovery from COVID-19.
Unlike the 15 other residents diagnosed at his care home, two of whom sadly passed away, Lapschies did not develop respiratory issues during his illness. As per The Independent, when asked how he recovered, the war veteran replied, “I don’t know, it just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything.”
The doctor in charge of Lapschies recovery added that the war veteran didn't need to be hospitalized due to his long-term care at the veteran's home.
17. 104-year-old Spanish flu survivor also becomes COVID-19 survivor
At the time of writing, Italian grandmother Ada Zanusso is the oldest known person to have recovered from the coronavirus. Much like the previously mentioned Italica Grondons, Zanusso is also one of the very few people to have been infected both by the Spanish flu — which infected approximately one-third of the world's population and killed roughly 50 million people in 1918 — and COVID-19 in her lifetime.
Ada Zanusso fought against the deadly infection at her care home in Biella, northern Italy.https://t.co/PYCweJZ0N7— Metro (@MetroUK) April 6, 2020
As reported by the Mirror, 104-year-old Ada Zanusso's doctors praised her recovery as a "sign of good hope." Zanusso developed fever and breathing difficulties before being diagnosed. Thankfully, she has now made a full recovery.
18. 106-year-old British woman beats COVID-19
On April 14, a 106-year-old great-grandmother, who is thought to be the oldest patient in Britain to recover from the novel coronavirus, was applauded by nurses and health workers as she was discharged from hospital.
Connie Titchen, from Birmingham, England, who was born when King George V was on the throne, fought the virus for just under three weeks before doctors informed her that she had recovered. Titchen was originally hospitalized with a case of suspected pneumonia, according to Reuters.
Her granddaughter Alex Jones, 40, said Titchen has always been physically active, though she does enjoy the occasional "cheeky McDonalds."
19. 'Oldest woman in Spain' beats COVID-19 at 113
Catalan woman Maria Branyas was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after Spain went into one of the world's strictest lockdowns in March. Impressively, after weeks in isolation, Ms. Branyas was COVID-19-free, having experienced only mild symptoms.
Ms. Branyas has lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and the coronavirus, the BBC reports.
La anciana más longeva de España, con 113 años, supera la COVID-19.— La Vanguardia (@LaVanguardia) May 12, 2020
La catalana María Branyas también es a partir de ahora la persona de más edad en superar el coronavirus después de hacerlo en la residencia en la que vive en Olot, Girona.https://t.co/6bDcty9sYJ#coronaviruspic.twitter.com/pubB2FTmu3
Though health officials have often warned the public that the elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, as per The Independent, England’s chief medical officer Chris Witty has reassured the public that “the great majority” of older patients will still survive.
While the above stories do provide hope, it is also important to remember that the coronavirus causes a potentially deadly disease and that age isn't always a factor. In fact, some estimates suggest that approximately 40% of patients to have been hospitalized have been between the age of 20 and 54.
In recent times, amidst easing restrictions, there has been a surge in younger cases, as per CNN. Johns Hopkins Medicine has emphasized in a post that young people can be vulnerable too and the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the fact that people of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. It's best to stay home and stay safe.
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Editor's Note 08/07/20: The article was updated to add new cases as well as to provide more up-to-date information regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.