Why is the coronavirus killing more men than women, especially in Italy?

The global pandemic is surpassing 200,000 cases all around the world. Interestingly, a striking pattern has been noticed by researchers. The fact is that more men are dying when compared to women. This trend is more pronounced in Italy, with men making up to 60 percent of total cases and 70 percent of total deaths as published by the country’s public health agency. While similarly in South Korea, men account for 54 percent of the cent of total deaths, but here 61 percent of affected cases were women.

As pandemic is progressing over the globe, epidemiologists are working on the vulnerable groups so as to protect them. Currently, the difference in mortality due to gender disparity is harder to explain. A recent study published in Lancet shows that 80 percent of casualties were men. Even before Italy’s outbreak, a study was modeled at Wuhan involving 100 patients, which showed us that men made up two-thirds of the cases. More recent figures revealed us 64 percent of total deaths in China due to COVID-19 were men. One should also note the fact that in Italy the average age of people is 46.5, making it one of the countries with many elderly people. As we know, COVID-19 has fatal effects on people, as we saw in China. This is an added reason why there are more deaths are occurring in Italy than in China.

But with increasing deaths in other countries of the world, the gender pattern may possibly change, and we will get a whole idea of how this is working. Even smaller outbreaks of SARS and MERS had these gender gaps in their outbreaks.

The possible reason

As of now, scientists do not have a clear idea of why this is happening but it has been consistently present with COVID-19. But possibly taking into account the demographic figures, women tend to live longer in China, Italy, and South Korea, as reported by WHO. Also, men to smoke and drink more in these countries than women, especially in China, where 48 percent of men above 15 do it. Surprisingly, more men die in these countries due to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory disease.

But on a molecular level, there are some underlying factors that make men more susceptible to the virus than women. Establishing such factors will give a clear idea of the disease mechanism as a whole. In addition, at a genomic level, women tend to have two ‘XX’ chromosomes, whereas men have only one. The X chromosome is important because it contains a large number of genes important for forming out immune systems in our body, in which women tend to have an extra advantage with it. Studies also have found that estrogen present in female mice is helping to fight against SARS. But for now, this has been consistent with the COVID-19, and investigating this will help clinicians formulate protocols that can help save many lives. More research can help unfurl the mystery behind this strange pattern.

Source: Boston.com

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