Biological features and differences in behavior play a role.
The death toll from a new type of coronavirus is growing, and there is growing evidence that in men the disease often proceeds severely and more often ends in death. It was noticeable from the first days of the outbreak of the virus in China and is repeated in other countries, such as Italy, USA, Spain. Researchers are not yet sure of the reasons, but there are interesting preliminary findings.
What can affect mortality?
1. Biological differences
Male and female organisms fight infections differently. Women usually have a stronger immune response. Scientists believe that this is partially due to the presence of two X ‑ chromosomes. It is in this chromosome that contains most of the genes responsible for the immune system . However, this hyperactivity of the immune system seems to cause a higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Hormones can also play an important role. Some immune cells have estrogen receptors (female sex hormone), and, as experiments have shown in mice, estrogen supplements enhance the overall immune response.
In 2017, researchers analyzed the difference in susceptibility to the first SARS coronavirus (from which it died during an outbreak in 2003 more men than women). They found that male mice are more susceptible to the virus. But when scientists blocked the normal functioning of estrogen in females, they also began to get sick more often.
The female body as a whole responds faster to infections. Therefore, later he does not have to use the full power of immunity to fight the virus and inflammation is reduced. However, such differences are not characteristic of all infections. Data on other viruses, including the causative agent of influenza, show the opposite tendency: More women die than men.
In general, scientists do not yet fully understand how biological differences in sexes affect the course of COVID ‑ 19, but they can clearly be important.
2. Behavioral factors
One of them may be smoking. An analysis of existing studies of March 17 concluded that “smoking is a major cause of COVID ‑ 19.” As notes WHO, there are several reasons for this. Firstly, smokers are more likely to have lung diseases, and this is proven risk factor for severe infection. Secondly, while smoking, people are more likely to touch their faces, increasing their chances of getting infected.
And as you know, smoking is more common among men. According to research In 2017, 54% of Chinese adults and only 2.6% of Chinese women are addicted to tobacco. In Spain and the United States observed a similar trend, although the gap is far from so wide.
Other differences in the behavior of people of different sexes can aggravate the situation. So, in the US, men wash hands are less likely than women and are less likely to turn for medical help at the beginning of the disease . A survey conducted by Reuters in late March also revealed that fewer men take the threat of coronavirus seriously and change their behavior.
Why is it so important to understand these differences?
This will help to find the most effective treatment options for each patient, as well as create vaccine. It is known that such drugs act on people of different sexes in different ways. Women are usually better protected from infection after vaccination. Therefore, it is extremely important to take into account gender when creating and testing tools.
Although men seem to die from coronavirus more often, do not forget that absolutely everyone is at risk. And due to some factors, women are at greater risk. For example, in the USA they make up 76% of medical personnel, which means they are more likely to contact the infected.
The risk increases with age. According to the statement of the Italian government, in the group of patients over 90 years old, mortality is higher in women. The same is true in the group with some diseases: heart failure, hypertension, dementia . There, the death toll of women exceeds the death toll of men with the same diseases, although the overall numbers are small.
We still have a lot to learn about why some people end up in intensive care and die, while others do not. And we must continue to try to reduce our own chances of getting sick or infecting others.
Published by @jennifer