Men more likely to get coronavirus and die from it: Research
LONDON: Death and infection tolls from the Covid-19 pandemic point to men being more likely than women to contract the disease and to suffer severe complications, according to insights from research and experts.
In Italy, an analysis of more than 127,700 Covid-19 cases found that 52.9 per cent of all infected people were men and 47.1 per cent women. Among Italy's first 14,860 deaths, almost 68 per cent were men.
A Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention report found that in a data set of 44,672 confirmed cases, there was a 1.1 per cent higher Covid-19 fatality rate in men compared with women.
"Evidence is mounting that men are experiencing more severe symptoms and have a higher mortality rate when compared with women," said Dr James Gill, a specialist at Warwick Medical School.
The factors include both behavioural and biological risks, such as unhealthy habits, smoking and their impact.
Experts said one influence may be that men, in general, do not look after their bodies as well as women do - with lower levels of hand-washing and hygiene, and higher levels of smoking, alcohol use, obesity and other unhealthy behaviour.
In many countries, smoking rates are higher among men than women, and smoking is a known risk factor for many other life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, lung disease and cancer.
The sex differential is particularly marked in China, where 50 per cent of men smoke, compared with 5 per cent of women.
In Italy, a 2018 analysis found smoking was more common among men than women across all adult age groups.
Another factor is the relative strength of the male and female immune responses.
Research shows that immune response throughout life - to everything from vaccines and infections to autoimmune diseases - is typically more aggressive in women than in men.
Professor Philip Goulder, a professor of immunology at Oxford University, said several factors contribute to women having more aggressive immune systems, including that females have two X chromosomes compared with one in males.
He added: "In particular, the protein by which viruses such as coronavirus are sensed is encoded on the X chromosome."
That means this protein is expressed at twice the dose on many immune cells in women compared with men, which in turn could well be boosting females' ability to ward off Covid-19. - REUTERS