New Chinese research has found that men may be more likely to develop a more severe case of Covid-19 and die from the disease than women, although it’s still unclear why.
Carried out by doctors at the Beijing Tongren Hospital, the new study set out to investigate whether there are any differences in how Covid-19 develops in men and women, after the physicians noticed that the number of men dying from the virus appeared to be higher than women.
“This raised a question: are men more susceptible to getting or dying from Covid-19?
“We found that no one had measured gender differences in Covid-19 patients, and so began investigating,” said physician and researcher Dr Yang Jin-Kui.
To do so, the team looked at 43 Covid-19 patients the doctors had treated themselves, along with 1,056 Covid-19 patients whose data was publicly available.
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 is similar to the one that caused the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak back in 2003, the doctors also looked at data gathered from 524 SARS patients to observe any gender differences in this group.
The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, showed that among the patients with Covid-19, those who were older and had specific underlying conditions tended to develop a more severe case of the disease and were more likely to die.
This finding is perhaps not so surprising, given that so far, elderly patients and those with certain pre-existing conditions have appeared to be at greater risk.
However, the researchers found that the male patients also tended to have a more severe case of the disease, and that over 70% of patients in the large Covid-19 dataset who died were men.
This meant that men had almost 2.5 times the death rate of women with Covid-19.
Being male was also a significant risk factor for disease severity, regardless of age.
When the researchers analysed the data taken from the SARS patients, they also found a significantly higher rate of death among the men.
Moreover, levels of a protein called ACE2 tended to be higher among men, and those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes – all of whom have been found to have worse outcomes if they contract Covid-19.
This protein is found on cells in the body that are attacked by the coronaviruses that cause Covid-19 and SARS,
The researchers point out that the study is the first to investigate gender differences in Covid-19 patients, although it is still unclear why some people are more severely affected by this disease than others.
They add that further research is now needed, and larger studies should be carried out to confirm their results.
In the meantime, as the findings suggest that men are significantly more likely to die from Covid-19, even though men and women are equally likely to contract it, the researchers note that additional care may be needed for older men or those with underlying conditions, such as heart disease and respiratory conditions, who are also at greater risk of severe disease and death.
“We recommend that additional supportive care and prompt access to the intensive care unit may be necessary for older male patients,” said Dr Yang. – AFP Relaxnews