Misleading vaccine report claims COVID-19 escalate aging process

‘Oku taupotu ‘i lalo ha fakamatala fakaTonga

A misleading post on Instagram (direct linkarchive link) shows a collage that features NFL player Damar Hamlin, Dr. Anthony Fauci and a stormtrooper from Star Wars.

“The COVID shots speeds (sic) up the aging process within the human body,” reads text included in the post.

“Therefore, those who are fully vaccinated, will age faster than those who are not vaccinated and possess age related diseases way before their time.”

There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines speed up the aging process, an expert told USA TODAY. The same can’t be said for the virus it helps prevent, however: Some researchers have found links between severe cases of COVID-19 and signs of accelerated aging.

Dr. Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said there is no evidence COVID-19 vaccines cause accelerated aging.

“On the contrary, they reduce the risk of severe COVID-19,” Ray said in an email to USA TODAY. “To the extent that severe COVID-19 is associated with accelerated aging, the COVID-19 vaccines would be expected to reduce that risk.”

There is no avoiding chronological aging, Ray said, but aging can also be viewed as a process of deterioration that involves accumulating injuries and being at a higher risk for age-related diseases. Diseases or other ailments that happen more often with age can be associated with specific characteristics, such as gene expression, and deemed aging-related, Ray said

“If they develop rapidly, they might be called accelerated aging, though such terminology is imprecise since aging is not a uniform process biologically,” he said.

There are multiple studies that show links between severe cases of COVID-19 and accelerated aging. A 2022 study by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, for example, found “patients with severe COVID-19 exhibit a drop in cognitive performance that mimics accelerated aging,” The Harvard Gazette reported.

“Ours is the first study to show that COVID-19 is associated with the molecular signatures of brain aging,” Maria Mavrikaki, a Harvard Medical School pathology instructor and one of the study’s authors, told The Harvard Gazette. “We found striking similarities between the brains of patients with COVID-19 and aged individuals.”

A 2022 study published in Advanced Biomedical Research, a peer-reviewed online journal, suggests a consequence of the pandemic will be more people experiencing medical issues similar to problems common with old age.

“Based on the available evidence, our hypothesis is that the (COVID-19) pandemic and its long-term complications will lead to premature aging – in terms of health – of many people in the world,” the study says.

Another 2022 study published in Nature Communications, a scientific journal, found COVID-19 could accelerate epigenetic aging, which shows the “true age that our cells, tissues and organ systems appear to be, based on biochemistry,” according to the National Institute on Aging.

The COVID-19 vaccines lower the risk of developing a severe illness, “saving millions of lives and preventing many of the complications of severe COVID-19 disease,” Ray said.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Our fact-check sources:

FAKAMATALA FAKATONGA

‘Oku ‘ikai ke mo’oni ‘a e fakamatala kuo tufaki he ‘inistakalami ‘o pehe ai ‘oku fakavave’i ‘e he huhu malu’i Koviti ‘a e ‘alu ke motu’a ange’. ‘Oku ‘ikai ha fakamo’oni fakasaienisi ki ai.

Me’a tatau pe ki he tuakuaki’i ‘o pehe ‘oku hanga ‘e he vailasi ‘o ta’ofi ‘a e ‘alu ke motu’a ange, neongo ia ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e ngaahi keisi lalahi ‘o e Koviti-19 kuo ‘ilo ai ‘e ha kau fakatotolo ‘oku ‘i ai ‘ene fakau’aki mo e faka’ilonga  ‘o e vave ange ke holo ke motu’a ‘a e fa’ahinga kuo puke ko ia’.

Na’e pehē ‘e Palōfesa Dr Stuart mei he ako’anga fakafaito’o Johns Hopkins School of Medicine ‘oku hala’atā ha fakamo’oni ‘oku hanga ‘e he huhu malu’i ‘o fakavave’i e ‘alu ke motu’a ange.

Ko e me’a pe ‘oku fai ‘e he faito’o huhu malu’i ko hono fakasi’isi’i ‘a e fakatu’utāmaki ange ‘a e Koviti 19.

Oku malava pe  ia ke vave ‘a e holo ke motu’a ange tu’unga he to lalao ‘i ha ‘i ai ha lavea lahi pe tu’u fakatu’utamaki ‘i ha ma’u ha ngaahi mahaki fakatupu motu’a vave ange. Kau ai ‘a e fa’ahinga ‘ulungaanga pau, hange ko e gene expression, pea lau ia ‘oku nau fekau’aki mo e ‘alu ke motu’a vave ange.

Kapau ‘e vave ‘ene ma’u ‘o kakakaka ai pea ‘e lava ke lau ia ‘oku ne fakavave’i ‘a e  ‘alu ke motu’a  ange. Kuo iai a e ngaahi sitati ‘oku ‘asi ai ‘a e fekau’aki ‘a e Koviti 19 mo e ‘alu ke motu’a ange

I ha fakatotolo i he 2022 ne fakahoko ‘e he saienitisi mei he  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, ne ilo ai ‘a e kau mahaki ne fu’u lahi ‘a e Koviti 19 ia kinautolu. Pea ne ‘i ai ‘a e holo ‘i he’enau tu’unga fakaefakakaukau.

Iai mo e fakatotolo ki ai ‘a e Harvard Medical School o pehe ‘oku ‘i ai e felave’i ‘a e ngaahi uesia ‘o kinautolu ki he ‘uto ‘a kinautolu oku ma’u kovia ‘e he Koviti. Kau pe ai mo e popula ‘a e ‘atamai he faingata’a ‘oku ‘omeia ‘e he Koviti ‘a e ‘alu ke vave ange ‘a e motu’a.

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