Wednesday, August 12, 2020

COVID-19 kills more men than women. This may be the reason why.

When the global pandemic surpassed 200,000 globally, a striking pattern had been noticed by researchers. The fact is that more men were dying when compared to women. This trend was 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 accounted 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 study published in Lancet showed 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 senior citizens.

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. This is even though there are contrary studies that say men and women are equally likely to contract the coronavirus.

The possible reason why men are more susceptible

A study published in May indicates that men may have higher concentrations of the ACE2 enzyme in their blood. ACE2 allows the SARS-CoV-2 to infect healthy cells. 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.

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.

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