Men infected with COVID-19 are three times more likely to need intensive care than women. They have an increased risk of death as well, the scientists from The University of Cape Town (South Africa) reported. The results of their research were published in the Nature Communications journal.
Experts analyzed more than three million confirmed COVID-19 cases from 46 countries and 44 US states between January 1 and June 1, 2020. The infection risk was the same for women and men, as half of the confirmed cases were male patients. Men were 39% more likely to die from the COVID-19 infection though.
Researchers consider gender differences in both the innate and adaptive immune systems to be one of the risk factors. Women naturally produce more type I interferon proteins that limit the abnormal immune response known as a cytokine storm, believed to play a role in provoking severe forms of COVID-19. The “female” estradiol hormone may also help women to fight the virus, as it boosts the response of T cells, killing infected cells, and increases the production of antibodies.
But the risk of death may be increased by other diseases as well that are more common in men than in women, for example, hypertension and diabetes.