The higher death rate caused by COVID-19 in older people, especially those with comorbidities, is a challenge for biomedical aging research. Here we explore the idea that an exacerbated inflammatory response, in particular that mediated by IL-6, may drive the deleterious consequences of the infection. Data shows that other RNA viruses, such as influenza virus, can display enhanced replication efficiency in senescent cells, suggesting that the accumulation of senescent cells with aging and age-related diseases may play a role in this phenomenon. However, at present, we are completely unaware of the response to SARS-CoV and SARS-COV-2 occurring in senescent cells. We deem that this is a priority area of research because it could lead to the development of several therapeutic strategies based on senotherapeutics or prevent unsuccessful attempts. Two of these senotherapeutics, azithromycin and ruxolitinib, are currently undergoing testing for their efficacy in treating COVID-19. The potential of these strategies is not only for ameliorating the consequences of the current emergence of SARS-CoV-2, but also for the future emergence of new viruses or mutated ones for which we are completely unprepared and for which no vaccines are available.
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