Health and Medicine

Why More Men Are Dying From COVID-19 Than Women – A Geneticist Explains

By Jenny Graves

The Conversation

All over the world – in China, Italy, the United States and Australia – many more men than women are dying from COVID-19.

Why? Is it genes, hormones, the immune system – or behaviour – that makes men more susceptible to the disease?

I see it as an interaction of all of these factors and it isn’t unique to the SARS-Cov-2 virus – the different response of men and women is typical of many diseases in many mammals.

The grim figures

In Italy and China deaths of men are more than double those of women. In New York city men constitute about 61 percent of patients who die. Australia is shaping up to have similar results, though here it’s mostly in the 70-79 and 80-89 age groups.

One major variable in severity of COVID-19 is age. But this can’t explain the sex bias seen globally because the increased male fatality rate is the same in each age group from 30 to 90+. Women also live on average six years longer than men, so there are more elderly women than men in the vulnerable population.

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