Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The significantly higher mortality rates seen in the elderly compared with young children during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is likely to be driven in part by an impaired immune response in older individuals. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) seroprevalence approaches 80% in the elderly. CMV has been shown to accelerate immune ageing by affecting peripheral blood T cell phenotypes and increasing inflammatory mediated cytokines such as IL-6. The elderly with pre-existing but clinically silent CMV infection may therefore be particularly susceptible to severe Covid-19 disease and succumb to a cytokine storm which may have been promoted by CMV. Here, we evaluate the potential role of CMV in those with severe Covid-19 disease and consider how this relationship can be investigated in current research studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Reviews in medical virology

Publication Date



Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford, UK.