A new study, which looked at data from nearly 100000 people in Houston, Texas, confirms that men seem to be more likely to be infected with covid-19 than women.The study found that regardless of age, men are more likely to be infected with the virus, suffer from serious complications and die of the disease than women.
In 2020, with novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spreading rapidly across the globe, one of the most striking epidemiological observations was that men were more vulnerable to COVID-19 than women. In the early days, small-scale studies from China seemed to show that men were more likely to suffer from cowid-19.
The new study, led by farhaan vahidy of the Methodist Institute in Houston, investigated the relationship between biological gender and cowid-19 in a large American city. The data of nearly 100000 subjects who were tested for sars-cov-2 were analyzed. The results showed that men were more likely to test positive for the virus, they were more likely to be sent to intensive care unit, and eventually they were more likely to die of the disease. These gender differences persisted even after adjusting for "age, race, ethnicity, marital status, type of insurance, median income, BMI, smoking and 17 comorbidities," the researchers said.
In the early stage of the pandemic, the observation that men are more likely to be infected with covid-19 is speculated to be due to gender differences in social behavior. According to the CDC report released in July 2020, men are more likely to play down the risk of covid-19, ignore prevention suggestions such as social distance and wearing masks, and participate in high-risk activities such as public gatherings.
Although the CDC report does not ignore the biological gender differences that may affect the severity of covid-19, the study does hypothesize that psychosocial and behavioral factors play an important role in explaining the differences in covid-19 infection between men and women. However, vahidy and his colleagues point out in their new study that there are enough gender differences observed in the transmission of covid-19 in cultural and geographical areas, indicating that such differences may not be mainly social or behavioral.
"While gender related behaviors such as smoking, drinking, tendency to seek hospital care, and the presence of comorbidities may influence the results of covid-19, the increased risk of male death seen in several different cultures around the world suggests biological risk determinants," the researchers wrote.
It's not uncommon that diseases affect men and women differently. For example, the incidence rate of Parkinson's disease is higher in men than in women, while Alzheimer's disease is the opposite. The incidence rate of women is much higher than that of men. More and more studies are trying to unravel the biological gender differences in disease risk.
In the case of cowid-19, scientists are investigating several possible reasons why the disease may hit men more than women. An article in the journal Nature last year suggested that gender based immune differences were the key to the difference in disease severity. A recent Australian study showed that men have more ACE2 receptors on lower lung cells, which may be the reason why they are more susceptible to the influence of cowid-19.
"Gender differences in covid-19 susceptibility exist, and emphasize the importance of examining gender categorical data to improve our understanding of the biological processes involved, making it possible to tailor treatment and risk stratification of patients," vahidy and colleagues conclude in the new study.
The new study is published in《PLOS ONE》In the magazine.