COVID-19 and Intrinsic Capacity

J Nutr Health Aging. 2020;24(7):692-695. doi: 10.1007/s12603-020-1397-1.


The SARS-CoV-2 infection is particularly associated with negative outcomes (i.e., serious disease, death) in frail older people, independently of where they live. Furthermore, the period of pandemic (with its lockdowns, social distancing, fragmentation of care…) has significantly changed the environment in which older people live. It is likely that, when the pandemic will be over, an acceleration of the aging process will be observed for many persons, independently of whether they have been infected or not by the SARS-CoV-2. The World report on ageing and health, published by the World Health Organization, proposes the concept of intrinsic capacity (i.e., the composite of all the physical and mental capacities of the individual) as central for healthy ageing. The routine assessment of biological age through constructs such as intrinsic capacity might have allowed a better understanding of the functional trajectories and vulnerabilities of the individual, even during a catastrophic event as the one we are currently living. In the present article, we describe how COVID-19 has affected the persons' intrinsic capacity, and how the wide adoption of the intrinsic capacity model may support the modernization of our systems and bring them closer to the individual.

Keywords: Aging; frailty; geriatrics; healthcare; public health.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Isolation