More infected men than women seem to be dying from the coronavirus, according to data from countries hit by the pandemic, but an incomplete data set is clouding scientists’ ability to understand why. Scientists sift through clues from differences in social behaviour, occupation, age and gender as these factors sway infection rates differently.
In Pakistan (4,196 cases, 60 deaths and 467 recovered cases as of April 8), the gender wise reporting is elusive. However, the absolute figures tell that in comparison to the rest of the word, men have been infected and died in far greater proportion.
On March 20, The World Health Organization reported that, men represented around 70% of coronavirus deaths in Western Europe. Roni Caryn Rabin in New York Times reported: women seem to be less likely to die from coronavirus than men. In its inexorable spread across New York City, the coronavirus is exacting a greater toll on men who are dying at nearly twice the rate of women. To date, there have been nearly 43 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 men in the city, compared with 23 such deaths for every 100,000 women, according to figures reported by the city’s health department.
Most people will get a mild infection, but the pattern is clear in the most severe cases. The Guardian reports that in the six countries that are maintaining gender disaggregated data of patients, four — China, France, Italy, and South Korea — reported death rates among men that were 50 percent higher than those among women.
Researchers are trying to figure out the reasons. Behavior is one possible explanation. Smoking rates among men are much higher, for instance, and weaken the lungs, which the coronavirus then aggressively targets. Some scientists have suggested that women have stronger immune systems. Women also tend to live longer and develop certain risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases — like hypertension and heart disease — later in life than men. Many men also have higher rates of underlying preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These make male patients who contract the coronavirus more vulnerable, says Business Insider.
A doctor’s note published in Al-Jazeera has more insights, here.
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