Results of a study by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) indicate that the case fatality rate in men would be 2.8%, against 1.7% among women. In France, the data posted by Public Health France also show that the number of deceased men is higher (around 60% of the deceased are male).
Be careful, as pointed out the newspaper The echoes, these figures do not mean that women are less affected by the disease: the CCDC study indicates that 51.4% of those infected are men, against 48.6% for women, which remains fairly close. Regarding the figures in France, they do not (for the moment) take into account the number of cases and deaths in nursing homes, which could change the situation since the population is more largely female, according to a 2015 study.
However, it is recognized that during previous epidemics linked to a coronavirus (SARS in 2003), the fatality rate was already lower among women. Scientists suggest several explanations:
– genetics: women have two X chromosomes, compared to one for men. It carries many genes related to immunity.
– hormonal: estrogen production could be the explanation. Experiments on mice infected with SARS show that the mortality of females whose ovaries have been removed, or which have been treated to block the estrogen receptor, is similar to that of males, as explained by Jean-Charle Guéry, responsible of the Inserm research team “Sex-related differences in immunity: mechanisms and pathophysiology”, to the magazine Sciences and Future.
– behavioral: the proportion of smokers among men is higher, or it is a risk factor. Hand washing and soap use are also less systematic in men according to several studies, as Dr. Sabra Klein recalls at New york times.
Diabetes, which more men suffer from, may also be an explanation. According to the CCDC study, the fatality rate for Covid-19 in diabetic patients is 7.3%, compared to 0.9% for patients without comorbidity.
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