5 June 2020

In a recent series of publications in the Dutch newspapers Parool, NRC, and Gelderlander, Radboudumc researcher and geriatrician, Marcel Olde Rikkert, criticized the Dutch government for their measurements against corona virus, and how it took care with both older and younger generations. 

In his interview with the newspapers, Olde Rikkert argues that the effect of the corona virus on especially elderly people were ignored or mistaken by the government. Many years of accumulated knowledge were basically overlooked, as if they didn't exist anymore, he adds. One such example is the firm criteria for the diagnosis, which required a minimum body temperature of 38 degrees. This is remarkable when considering the fact that standard body temperature amongst elderly can be 1 or 2 degrees lower than average. As such, an elderly with a body temperature of 37 degrees might already have a fever reaction.

Moreover, the social isolation of many older persons is also having firm drawbacks that for some are very serious. Loss of muscle function, but also loneliness and loss of wellbeing, and even lower immune function are adverse effects of lock-downs of many older persons at their homes or in institutes.  
Another aspect is that unnecessary shortage of personal protection and corona testing caused a lot of anxiety among health care professionals in care for the elderly. As this panic is now gradually subsiding, Olde Rikkert pleads for a critical evaluation of the current policies and their adverse effects, and to learn lessons from each other.

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