Researchers analyzed more than 3 million confirmed coronavirus cases from 46 countries and 44 U.S. states between Jan. 1 and June 1, 2020. The results showed. That men infected with COVID-19 were three times more likely to need intensive care than women and had a significantly higher risk of death.
The immediate risk of SARS-Cov-2 infection was the same for women and men, as “exactly half” of confirmed cases were in male patients. But men were nearly three times more likely than women to be admitted to the ICU and require ventilators, and 39 percent more likely to die from the coronavirus, the study said.
“These data may help physicians recognize that gender is a risk factor for severe complications,” co-author Kate Webb said.
The trend is global, with some exceptions, the researchers said, and can mostly be explained by biological differences — women’s immune systems may be more adaptive. Women naturally produce more interferon type I proteins, which limit the abnormal immune response known as cytokine storm, which plays t role in provoking severe forms of COVID-19.
“The female hormone estradiol can also help women fight severe forms of the virus because it increases the response of T cells that kill infected cells and increases antibody production, the study says. In contrast, the male sex hormone testosterone suppresses the immune system, the authors note.
The results are published in Nature Communications.