History has a way of repeating itself, even in the science industry. I’m talking about something as serious as US drug and vaccine trials. Seniors are historically excluded from these trials, even though they are the ones most commonly affected.
A historical look at COVID-19
If you look at the history of COVID-19, 8 out of 10 COVID-related deaths were adults ages 65 and older, yet they are excluded in more than 50% of the clinical trials and 100 percent of the vaccine trials.
Overlooking such an important demographic is dangerous, as the older demographic is the most likely to be first in line for the vaccine when it’s available. While testing on younger people helps push the vaccine through, something the country desperately needs, overlooking such an important demographic, could be life-altering for our country.
Is the overlooking of seniors on purpose or to protect them?
Some say it’s because of the vast amount of unknowns with COVID-19. It came upon us so fast, and no one knows much about it. Risking the life of seniors before they know the true impact of the drugs and vaccine could be even more detrimental than giving them the drugs or vaccine after they are approved.
Is it really to protect seniors, though?
If we’re being honest, we have to wonder if pharmaceutical companies are truly protecting the health and wellbeing of the older demographic or if they’re purposely excluding them to avoid the delay, including such a vulnerable demographic could create.
Why we should worry about seniors
There are two major reasons we need to focus and worry about seniors in US drug and vaccine trials.
First, we won’t know the effectiveness of treatment on such a vulnerable demographic. What if the approved treatment doesn’t work on them or, worse yet, has fatal effects? Not including them in the trials could be detrimental for everyone involved.
Second, dosing could be vastly different for seniors than younger people. Since the body goes through so many changes at ages, and many older people suffer from other underlying conditions, the dosage for treatment or vaccines could be much different than that of the younger population.
Some exclusion is necessary
Of course, we recognize the fact that some seniors need to be excluded from the studies for various health reasons. But excluding all seniors and/or not considering them when coming up with the drug and vaccine approvals could be detrimental.
The key is finding the middle ground. How do scientists determine the side effects and worries that the older population may have when it comes to the drug and vaccine trials that younger populations don’t have?
Are seniors purposely being excluded, or is it an oversight? While the studies don’t show it, we can’t help but wonder – and worry. Our older generations are at the highest risk and need the most support.
There needs to be a middle ground somehow between protecting seniors during the trials but also ensuring their safety once drugs and vaccines are approved for COVID and any other risky illnesses.