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In Praise of Asking Questions and Connecting the Dots


The Beauty of Science and Inquiry

It’s undeniable. 2020 has been an abysmal year for health. But, as a person who always seeks the silver lining, I see one. Scientists around the world are racing to find vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Never has there been so much effort, research and money directed to abate one disease at the same time. Over time, it is possible that this scientific research will reveal more answers to other health problems along the way. Perhaps some that impact aging.

How would that happen? In the history of health care, health providers have often found treatments and solutions accidentally. A medicine developed for one ailment is found to be helpful for another. For example, lithium was originally used to treat gout. Then it was discovered that it better helped reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some medications developed to treat seizure disorders have also proved to reduce symptoms of various forms of depression.

Something like this has happened recently. A report states that Luvox (Fluvoxamine), a treatment for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, is helpful for people with early symptoms of COVID-19. A study shows that “fluvoxamine seems to prevent some of the most serious complications of the illness and make hospitalization and the need for supplemental oxygen less likely.”

What has this got to do with aging? Older adults who contract COVID-19 have the greatest rate of fatality.  With the urgency of COVID-19, health care workers and researchers are examining every detail that they can. Their goal is to reduce the damage. They are looking for connections and protective factors. My hope is that, along the way, some other medical interventions to protect the health of this age group will appear.

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