Many more men are dying from COVID-19 than women
In many countries, male fatalities are twice those of women.
In Italy and China, deaths of men due to COVID-19 are more than double those of women. In New York City, men constitute about 61 per cent of patients who die. Australia is showing signs of similar results.
Clearly, the major variable in severity of COVID-19 is age. But experts say the other major factor is the presence of chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, diabetes and cancer. These are all more common in men than women, which might account for some of the bias.
Writing in The Conversation, Jenny Graves, Professor of Genetics at La Trobe University, says “the sex bias in COVID-19 deaths is part of a much larger picture – and a very much older picture – of sex differences in genes, chromosomes and hormones that lead to very different responses to all sorts of disease, including COVID-19”.
“We’ve known for a long time that women have a stronger immune system than men. It gives women an advantage when it comes to susceptibility to viruses.”
In China, the marked differences in death rates between men and women mirrors the extreme differences in smoking rate. Almost half of Chinese men smoke compared with only 2 per cent of women. Not only is smoking a severe risk factor for any respiratory disease, but it also causes lung cancer, a further risk factor.