Even though the virus does not discriminate in who it affectes, research published last week by China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that men are more likely to die of the virus than women. This is widely shocking as the number of women and men affected by the virus is pretty similar.
The reports of the virus first emerged in early December, 2019 in Wuhan, China. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the main symptoms of the virus are fever and lesions in both lungs. Some patients also have reported difficulty breathing.
As the number grows in over 79,000 affectees in China, there have been about 2,600 deaths from the virus. What is also interesting to note is that from those that died, the majority has been adults, while children have been largely spared.
Are Men More Likely to Die From the Virus?
New research from China has found that men, particularly middle-aged and older men, are having a harder time fighting off the virus than women. Chinese researchers found that while the infection rate among men and women is the same, the death rate among men is 2.8% compared with 1.7% for women.
According to Sabra Klein, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the pattern—men faring worse than women—is consistent with other viral respiratory infections. “Women fight them off better,” she said.
Why Are Men At Greater Risk?
Research suggests that women have a heightened immune response. Research on previous outbreaks shows that women have stronger immune responses to coronaviruses. According to Janine Clayton, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at NIH, “There’s something about the immune system in females that is more exuberant,” but researchers have yet to figure out what that is.
Some researchers think the higher level of estrogen, which contributes to immunity, and the fact that women have two X chromosomes, which carry immune-related genes, could factor into women’s heightened immune response.
Apart from a heightened immune response, certain health choices by men could be putting them in harm’s way. Patients’ existing health conditions and health behaviors can make them more susceptible to the virus, and increase their risk of death, Caryn Rabin reports. When it comes to health behaviors, Caryn Rabin writes, China has the largest population of smokers in the world at 316 million people, but while more than 50% of Chinese men smoke, only about 2% of Chinese women partake in the behavior.
And while the outbreak of Coronavirus started in male workers first, the fact that more Chinese men smoke than Chinese women, might also help explain why men are at a greater risk. Since the virus greatly affects the lungs, smokers all over the world, men and women, are at greater risk of dying from the virus. This might be your cue to throw out your pack of cigarettes NOW!
It is also important to note that the virus is fairly new and there might be a lot more to learn from it. There can be underreporting because of under-testing, especially because this is not a commercially available test. Therefore, it is best to keep a look out for more updates regarding the virus and keep yourself as safe as possible.