The COVID-19 has been responsible for the illness as well as the deaths of thousands of people around the world. However, it is seen that men are more likely to be affected by the virus than women.
According to an estimate, in Italy, around 64% of men died due to the virus. Whereas, 59% of men in Spain, 58% of men in Germany, and 58% of men in New York passed away after contracting the virus.
A study in China consisting of 44,672 participants found that men had a fatality rate of 2.8% whereas the fatality rate for women was 1.2%.
These numbers have made people wonder if men are at more risk than women and several theories have come up to explain the statistics. These are based on health habits, genetics/hormones, and delays in seeking care.
Talking about health habits, men normally have a higher rate of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases like diabetes, hypertension, etc. than women. They also tend to smoke and drink at a higher rate which may weaken the immune system even more.
Another reason could be that in both the gender’s immune system, proteins that defend the body do not operate the same way. Women also have more cases of autoimmune (attack one’s tissues) disease which makes their immune system more active.
Women’s immune systems can recognize a pathogen early on and activate a defense system to fight bacteria, viruses, etc. Sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen (a primary female sex hormone) modulate an immune response.
X chromosomes have genes that can help the immune system to fight diseases. Even though women have 2 and men only have 1, the other one is usually silenced but 10% of it can be activated. This could serve as a double dose of protection.
Another reason could be that men usually delay in seeking care. In the US, out of the 56%, women tested for Covid-19, only 16% were tested positive whereas 23% of men were tested positive out of the 44% that got themselves tested.
Men in general do not take symptoms seriously and wait till serious symptoms appear. According to a report by the New York Department of Health, 39 women and 71 men die out of 100,000.
So this shows that not only men are being affected by the virus more, but are also dying at an increasing rate.