Men who catch coronavirus are more than twice as likely to die from the disease as women, a study has warned.
The virus hits men harder as they suffer more severely and have a death rate that is around 2.5 times higher, researchers from China found.
Their report suggests that the virus not only discriminates by age and underlying health conditions, but also by sex.
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Men who catch coronavirus are more than twice as likely to die from the disease as women, a study has warned
Jin-Kui Yang and colleagues at the Beijing Tongren Hospital in China noticed the trend among COVID-19 patients who died.
‘Early in January we noticed that the number of men dying from COVID-19 appeared to be higher than the number of women,’ said Dr Yang.
‘This raised a question: are men more susceptible to getting or dying from COVID-19? We found that no-one had measured gender differences in COVID-19 patients, and so began investigating.’
The team analysed several patient datasets to establish if there were differences in how men and women respond to the virus.
This included data on 43 patients the doctors had treated themselves, as well as publicly available data on 1,056 COVID-19 patients.
Doctors also analysed data from 524 SARS patients from 2003, as the viruses responsible for both SARS and COVID-19 are similar.
They attach to the same protein — called ACE2 — on the cells they attack.
The team confirmed that older people and those with specific underlying conditions tended to have the disease more severely and were more likely to die from it.
Men and women were equally likely to contract the virus — but men were significantly more likely to suffer severely, regardless of their age.
Furthermore, in the largest COVID-19 dataset, more than 70 per cent of patients who died were men.
Analysis also showed a similar trend for 2003 SARS patients, with a significantly higher death rate among men.
Levels of the ACE2 protein tended to be present in higher levels in male patients.
It was also higher in patients with heart disease and diabetes — both of whom have worse outcomes in cases of coronavirus.
The findings are in line with the latest UK figures from the Office for National Statistics, which also suggest that men are hit worse than women.
In Italy, meanwhile, men have accounted for more than two thirds of deaths, the British Medical Journal has reported.
However, the authors have cautioned that further research is needed to determine exactly why men with coronavirus fare worse than women.
‘The study may have important implications for patient care,’ said Dr Yang.
‘We recommend that additional supportive care and prompt access to the intensive care unit may be necessary for older male patients.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
WHO says lifting virus lockdowns too quickly could spark ‘deadly resurgence’
A hasty lifting of restrictions imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a fatal resurgence of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organization has warned.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was working with countries on ways in which lockdowns could be gradually eased, but said doing so too quickly could be dangerous.
‘I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,’ he told a virtual press conference in Geneva.
‘At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.
‘WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.’
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pictured during a news conference, has warned that lifting coronavirus restrictions too quickly could result in a resurgence
The global death toll has now passed 100,000, and more than 1.6 million infections have been recorded globally since the virus first emerged in China in December.
Tedros welcomed signs that the spread of the virus was slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe – namely Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
But he also warned of an ‘alarming acceleration’ of the virus in some countries, highlighting Africa, where he said the virus was beginning to spread to rural areas.
‘We are now seeing clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries’ on the continent, he said.
‘We anticipate severe hardship for already overstretched health systems, particularly in rural areas, which normally lack the resources of those in cities.’
Tedros also sent his best wishes to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been moved out of intensive care as he battles the coronavirus.