Here's Why Men Die From Coronavirus More Than Women
New data reveals that men are not just more likely to contract COVID-19, but also to die from it. Here's why.
The deadly COVID-19 contagion appears to be biased against men: Data has shown that men are not only more likely to contract the coronavirus, but are also more likely to die as a result of the contagion than women are. But why is it that men are more likely to die from the coronavirus? Typically, the response has been that men engage in more risky behavior. But the answer may be deeper than that.
Last Thursday, Deborah Birx, MD, who sits on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, reveled that data on around 1.5 million COVID-19 tests in the U.S. found that 56 percent of those tested were women. Of those women, 16 percent tested positive for COVID-19. The other 44 percent of the tests were done on men, and of those tested, 23 percent were positive for the coronavirus.
"This is to all of our men out there, no matter what age group: If you have symptoms, you should be tested and make sure that you are tested," Brix said on Thursday during the White House coronavirus briefing.
Similarly, last Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study of people hospitalized in the U.S. for COVID-19 in March. The results showed that "males may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared with females."
Data released by the health department of New York City, the biggest COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S., also revealed that nearly twice as many men have died from COVID-19 than women. Numbers from other hotspots, like Washington and Michigan, suggest the same trend.
The "why" is something experts are still exploring, but in an article for Discover magazine, Nathanial Scharping had this to say as to why more men are dying from COVID-19:
According to Sharon Moalem, a physician and author, women have an inherent advantage when it comes to diseases because of their two X chromosomes.
Men have an XY chromosome pairing, and it means they miss out on extra copies of some genes that could make a difference when it comes to fighting infectious diseases like that caused by the coronavirus. Hormones play a role as well: Testosterone can inhibit the immune system, while estrogen can stimulate it.
Basically, having a Y chromosome instead of two X chromosomes limits some key genetic elements that appear to be critical in fighting the virus.
Moalem noted that it isn't all good news for women, though. "Their immune system is so much more aggressive and is made up of two populations of cells, so that predisposes women to have their immune cells turn against the body," she said.
And for more information about COVID-19, check out 13 Common Coronavirus Questions—Answered by Experts.