We all know that the coronavirus discriminates against age, with our elderly population overwhelmingly experiencing life-threatening symptoms from COVID-19. But now it appears the virus discriminates based off another biological marker — gender.
Men are experiencing more adverse effects from the disease than women, on average – in some cases, almost twice as much.
A Chinese study found the coronavirus fatality rate for men was 2.8 per cent, compared to 1.7 per cent for women. Another Chinese analysis found men accounted for 60 per cent of COVID‐19 patients in the country.
Health data from New York City found that 2232 men while only 1309 women died when the city was an epicentre in April.
The COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 people in New York City stood at 55 for men and less than 30 for women.
White House coronavirus co-ordinator Dr Deborah Birx previously pointed out this “concerning trend” after footage emerged in Italy of hospital ICUs, all filled with older men on ventilators.
“The mortality in males seems to be twice in every age group of females,” Dr Birx said.
“This should alert all of us to continue our vigilance to protect our Americans that are in nursing homes.”
One study even claimed that men made up 80 per cent of the deaths in Italy.
Researchers are scrambling to find the reason for the disparity. While they have a lot of ideas, there’s no research to back it up yet.
Experts have suggested the immune system differences between men and women, the protective effect of oestrogen in women and the tendency for men to have more risk factors.
For example, men are more likely to smoke – with 40 per cent of men smoking cigarettes worldwide compared to 9 per cent of women, according to the World Health Organisation – which puts them at higher risk of lung disease and a tougher battle when a respiratory virus strikes.
Men also drink more alcohol and may put off going to a doctor for longer when feeling unwell.