Friday, February 12, 2021

National Post Article on Aging and COVID

I rarely do media interviews.  My attitude towards them is three-fold:

(1) I only agree to do them when they are on my areas of actual expertise (meaning I have published extensively on the topic and/or taught on the issue for many years) vs a topical issue that I might have some random or half-baked thoughts on I could share with someone willing to listen to me (my blog is the more appropriate venue for such reflections).  

(2) the media can be an effective venue to help disseminate important and specialized knowledge/insights to the general public vs a strategy to be utilized to boost one's name recognition/ professional prestige/ or ego. 

(3) I really dislike presenting "sound bites" and having to summarize complex arguments and insights in one or two sentences (though I acknowledge there are important reasons for doing so.... the reality often is TLDNR = one's perspective is never heard)

My recent article in Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences was covered by the National Post in this article.  Tom Blackwell is an excellent reporter, who also interviewed me for a piece back in 2012., so I really enjoyed doing an interview with him for the article.

A few samples from the news item last week:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a highly fatal pandemic largely because of population aging,” notes Farrelly, a Queen’s University professor who has a new journal paper on the topic. “Our success in delaying death in late life made us vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality.”

....More intriguingly, and hopefully, Farrelly and others say the pandemic is a compelling reason to double down on a fascinating new domain of medical research. Its goal, rather than finding cures for individual diseases, is to treat the aging process itself.

....So how soon before a drug arrives that brings, not immortality exactly, but a longer “healthspan”?

Austad believes it ‘s coming within 10 years. Zhavoronkov is also optimistic, saying the last decade has seen remarkable progress, “more discoveries in aging medicine than in the entire human history.”

It feels personal to Farrelly, a political-studies professor who monitors geriatric science. His mother died in the midst of the pandemic after years of battling cancer, unable to see family in the last three months of her life because of COVID protocols. But he’s hopeful.

“I believe it will happen in my kids’ lifetime,” said Farrelly. “They won’t age like my mother did.”