COVID-19 Killing More Men Than Women – What Numbers, Studies Say
Over 3,00,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 15,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide, as of Tuesday, 24 March. Numbers emerging from countries that are worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic show one clear trend – the novel virus is killing more men than women.
Take the case of Italy – the country worst-hit in all the world.
At least 60 percent of those affected are men and more than 70 percent of them have died from the virus, said Italy’s top health research agency Istituto Superiore di Sanità.
China Reflects the Same Gender Disparity
Recent figures released by China's Centre for Disease Control – which claims that 'tens of thousands' of cases were studied – showed strong gender disparity in deaths due to coronavirus.
An early study, conducted of Wuhan, pointed that two-thirds of those infected were male, reported The Washington Post.
How Age, Gender Play a Role in Deaths
Unlike Italy and China, more women tested positive for coronavirus in South Korea – a country that is being appreciated for its handling of the pandemic.
In South Korea, the women who tested positive were between 20 and 29 years of age, while in Italy men above 70 years of age were the worst affected. As a result of this, the fatality rate in the South Korea was only 1.06 percent, while in Italy it was more than 8 percent.
Where Does India Stand
In India, over 500 people have been affected with the virus and 10 lives were lost, as of 24 March.
Of the 10, there was only one woman, 68-year-old from Delhi, lost her life to COVID-19.
What Is the Reason Behind This?
Studies point out to both biological and lifestyle factors that enable women to fight the disease better. One point that is being stressed upon repeatedly is – women have stronger immunity systems than men – thanks to the X chromosome.
According to a recent and much-quoted study in the journal Human Genomics, the X chromosome contains "a large number of immune-related genes." And since women have two of these, they also have an added advantage.
After the SARS outbreak in 2003, researchers conducted a study where mice were exposed to the virus, The New York Times said in a report. The male mice were far more susceptible as compared to their female counterparts. But when researchers blocked the stream of estrogen and exposed the female mice to the virus, they too became more susceptible to it.
China has the largest population of smokers in the world, according to the same report. But interestingly, while more than half the population of men smoke only 2 percent of women smoke in the country, mostly due to social conditioning.
More Men Lost Lives During SARS, MERS
A similar pattern of fatality was observed during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the MERS outbreak, which were also caused by coronavirus.
Similarly, 32 percent of men affected with MERS died, while only 25 percent of women succumbed to the disease, according to multiple media reports.
If we go further down history, more men than women died in the United States, during the influenza outbreak in 1918.
(With inputs from Washington Post, The New York Times)