Researchers believe that sex differences influence how our bodies react to COVID-19. Sex differences, is described by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures”. Unfortunately, the U.S. was among the two countries in the top 20, in terms of the greatest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, that did not provide sex-specific data. Researchers are pleading for the government to release this data, to better inform the general public and to help them become more prepared on how to protect themselves against infection. This publication details the role sex is playing in the spread and fatality rates COVID-19 causes.
Men or women, who gets infected more:
This is a complicated question, as there seems to be no definitive answer. Judging by countries that have provided sex-specific statistics, it seems women are slightly more likely to contract COVID-19. In summary, nine of the 18 countries that provided these stats, have more coronavirus cases among women. Six of the 18 have more cases of coronavirus among men, while the other three Norway, Germany and Sweden have a 50-50% split. Researchers believe they know why it appears that slightly more women are infected with COVID-19, as opposed to men. This is because HCPs are among the groups of people, that are most likely to contract COVID-19, thanks to their daily exposure to coronavirus patients. The health work force is dominated by women. A study conducted in 109 countries, found that 70% of health work force professionals were women. In some areas, in certain countries, the discrepancy is severe, for example the Hubei province in China, 90% of health force professionals are women.
Men more likely to die:
Medical News Today reported that researchers believe the estrogen levels in women, play a huge role in fighting the coronavirus. “Women in general are able to mount a more vigorous immune response to infections and vaccinations, because estrogen suppresses the escalation phase of the immune response, that lead to increased cytokine release”. Cytokine is responsible for tissue damage within lungs and leakage from pulmonary blood vessels. Many countries around the world such as Greece, Denmark and The Republic of Ireland have a ratio as high as 2:1 for men/female deaths, due to the coronavirus. Aside from a women’s immune system being stronger, researchers are not quite sure why the death rate for COVID-19 is so much higher for men, than women.
There seems to be widespread belief among the medical community, that the U.S. should have more of focus on studying the effects of COVID-19 between the sexes. Establishing how the disease outbreaks affect men and women differently is a critical step to evaluating the primary and secondary effects of a public health emergency on individuals and communities, and for creating effective interventions and policies.