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World’s second-oldest person survives COVID at 116 years old

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Feb 10, 2021 3:25 am

Supercentenarian Sister André, who is turning 117 years old on Feb. 11, has received an early birthday gift—the gift of life—as she survived a three-week battle with COVID-19. She is currently the oldest person to beat the dreaded disease.

According to the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), which keeps track of the oldest people in the world, Sister André, born Lucille Randon in Feb. 11, 1904 in France, is the second oldest known living person in the world. The oldest person in the world is 118-year-old Kane Tanaka of Japan. The GRG said a supercentenarian is anyone who has been validated to have lived 110 years or older.

Sister André tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 16 while in Sainte-Catherine Labouré retirement home in Toulon, France. After three weeks, she was cleared and is considered recovered from the disease.

With her age, Sister André is considered to be part of the vulnerable and high-risk groups set by the World Health Organization (WHO), as COVID-19 is often more severe in people who are 60 years old and above or those who have underlying health conditions.

Care home manager David Tavella told French newspaper Var-Matin that Sister André showed no fear of COVID-19 but was very concerned about other residents. In January, 81 of the 88 residents of the care home where Sister André lives reportedly contracted the coronavirus and about 10 of them died.

In an interview with French network BFMTV, Sister André, who is blind and uses a wheelchair, said, “I wasn’t scared because I wasn’t scared to die. I’m happy to be with you, but I would wish to be somewhere else—join my big brother and my grandfather and my grandmother.”

Before joining the sisters of the Company of the Daughters Charity in 1944, Sister André—whose name was in homage to his brother who raised her—was a housekeeper and an assistant in a hospital. She revealed in an interview in 2019 that her daily happiness is “to be able to go and pray.” She also loves chocolates, which she eats a piece of every morning.

In May 2020, another supercentenarian, 113-year-old Maria Branyas Morera, conquered COVID-19 in Spain.

In the Philippines, the oldest known COVID-19 survivor is reportedly a 106-year-old male from Cagayan de Oro City, who recovered from the disease in October 2020.

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