101-year old man, having reportedly survived the Holocaust, World War II, and the Spanish flu epidemic, now survives COVID-19

March 31, 2020 • 11:30 am

Talk about a survivor: this is unbelievable! The story (h/t Malgorzata) comes from the Jewish Journal (first headline) and Forbes (second) and you can see it by clicking on the screenshots. But I’ll reproduce the whole short report from JJ below.

The report:

A 101-year-old man, identified as ‘Mr. P’ has been released from isolation after recovering from COVID-19 in the Italian city of Rimini. Mr. P., a WWII and Spanish Flu survivor was admitted last week to a hospital in northeast Italy after he was tested positive for the Coronavirus.

According to Gloria Lisi, Vice-Mayor of Rimini, as the patient began to recover it became “the story everyone talked about” in the hospital.

“Everyone saw hope for the future of all of us in the recovery of a person more than 100 years old,” Lisi said in a televised interview.

“Every day we see the sad stories from these weeks that mechanically tell about a virus that rages and is especially aggressive on the elderly. But he survived. Mr. P. survived.”

According to an article in Forbes, this is the second pandemic the man has survived. Mr. P was born in 1919, in the middle of the Spanish flu, estimated by the Centers for Disease Control to have infected 500 million people, about a third of the world’s population.

It doesn’t really say in what sense he was a Holocaust survivor, whether he was Jewish, whether he was in the camps, and so on. It could be that he simply lived through the time of the Holocaust, but you could say that about anyone who lived in Europe during those years. And did he really get the Spanish flu, or was simply alive but ininfected while it raged? Still, he did beat the COVID-19 at 101!

And the Forbes story is below, which doesn’t say anything about the Holocaust survival.

Key bits:

Crucial quote: “Mr. P made it. The family brought him home yesterday evening,” Lisi said. “[It teaches] us that even at 101 years, the future is not written.” His “truly extraordinary” recovery gave “hope for the future,” she added.

Key background: Mr. P’s survival is remarkable, especially considering the high fatality rates for older Italians who become infected with the virus. According to a report from Italy’s National Institute of Health, nearly 86% of deaths in the country were patients older than 70 years old. And while China, the U.S., and Italy all had confirmed coronavirus numbers hovering around 80,000 Thursday, Italy saw substantially more deaths, 8,165 compared to 1,000 in the U.S. and  3,287 in China. The age distribution of Italy’s population may be a factor— the country has the second-oldest population globally, with 23% of Italians clocking in at over age 65.

Tangent: Mr. P has joined the ranks of other centenarians to survive coronavirus, including 103-year-old Zhang Guangfen, a woman living in Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated. Guangfen was admitted to hospital in early March and was discharged a week later. On Thursday, South Korea saw its oldest survivor leave hospital after a 97-year-old female coronavirus patient made a full recovery. She is reported to be from Cheongdo, a city not far from Daegu, which has seen the worst of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak.

To paraphrase the old doo-wop song, “Who was that man? I’d like to shake his hand.” On second thought, maybe we’d just bump elbows.

13 thoughts on “101-year old man, having reportedly survived the Holocaust, World War II, and the Spanish flu epidemic, now survives COVID-19

  1. A couple of days later, a 100 years old woman recovered from Covid-19 in Italy. And a 95 years old in Switzerland. There is hope for the oldest too.

  2. I’ve seen at least two places report rates of cancer decrease in people ~100 or greater. This is one article:


    I wonder, if maybe, their immune system which is something that acts against in with coronavirus may not work like it did and therefore their response is gentler to them.

    It could also be that if you get to be 100+ something like corona is going to have little effect.

    1. Depends on whether you’ve fired five or six shots, there Clint. Or, once you’ve reached these people’s age (or perhaps even Clint’s), whether you’re feeling lucky depends on your Depends®.

  3. It’s a numbers game. Italy had a lot of spread in elderly at the beginning, and did not have time to test much. So they report a high lethality, which should appear to go down if they ever catch up with testing.

    Germany had a spread among younger and have tested thoroughly, their 70+ lethality is 7 % or an order of magnitude less. The COVID-19 lethality among aged 20-70 in Germany is less than an order of magnitude larger than for flu.

    I’m trying to understand Sweden’s deaths among our medical workers. There is a worry (among professionals!) despite the number of deaths among nurses is proportional to their density and the number of intensive care patients – and we know we have social spread now. The number of dead intensive care doctors on the other hand is an order of a magnitude off (which isn’t many as of yet, thankfully), but of course the statistics are bad so I can’t tell yet.

    1. You should check my numbers, I pulled them from fallible memory.

      Also, IIRC I read today that Germany aim to test twice as many every day than the entire US will do. Can’t you just declare a medical emergency and put Trump in jail?

  4. Worth noting that all of us have a set of ancestors that survived the Spanish flu, not to mention innumerable other diseases and miseries, at least long enough to have reproduced.

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