Coronavirus update: Why are more men dying from COVID-19 compared to women?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost everything we do now with leading health experts noting the deadly virus has a bigger toll on men than it has on women. Why are men being more affected?


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More men are dying from COVID-19 worldwide than women with potential reasons for this being biology, habits and testosterone levels found in men.

The male sex hormone, testosterone, has a dampening effect on the immune system which makes men more susceptible to the virus.

Scientific evidence has suggested that oestrogen (the main female hormone) helps to improve the immune system and increase immune inflammation as opposed to testosterone which reduces or dampens the response.

The results indicate that women often have less severe infections than men and have significantly stronger immune responses to vaccinations.

In a study with Frontiers of Public Health, the sex differences in patients with COVID-19 was investigated with a focus on severity and mortality.

The study noted: “The recent outbreak of Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is reminiscent of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“We aim to compare the severity and mortality between male and female patients with COVID-19.

“We extracted the data from a case series of 43 hospitalised patients we treated, a public data set of the first 37 cases of patients who died of COVID-19 and 1,019 patients who survived in China and data of 524 patients with SARS, including 139 deaths.”

The study concluded that older age and a high number of comorbidities were associated with higher severity and mortality in patients with both COVID-19 and SARS.

Age was comparable between men and women in all data sets.

However, men’s cases tended to be more serious than women’s.

In the public data set, the number of men who died from COVID-19 is 2.4 times that of women.

The study found that while men and women have the same prevalence, men with COVID-19 are more at risk for worse outcomes and death, independent of age. 


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In New York, it has been reported that men have been dying of coronavirus at almost twice the rate of women.

The health department for the city reported in early April that 43 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 men, compared with 23 deaths for every 100,000 women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently is not reporting COVID-19 deaths by sex, however, experts see no reason the higher rates of death for men would differ elsewhere in the country and the rest of the world.

Dr Stephen Berger, an infectious disease expert and co-founder of the Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network, said: “Some of the underlying reasons why COVID-19 may be more deadly for men than women may include the fact that heart disease is more common in elderly men than in elderly women.

“Studies also find that high blood pressure and liver disease are more prevalent in men and these all contribute to more negative outcomes with COVID-19.”

It has also been reported that men with higher levels of testosterone may have weakened immunity.

It’s been shown that men produce the lowest antibody responses to annual flu vaccinations. 

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