Men appear to be hit harder by COVID-19 than women. Early data from China and the World Health Organization (WHO) show that more men than women are dying from COVID-19. Other countries like Spain and Italy also are seeing higher death rates among men.
But why might that be? Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert, says this is a really important scientific question.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Gregory Poland are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy “Gregory Poland, M.D. / Vaccine Research Group / Mayo Clinic.”
“This has been noticed everywhere there have been large outbreaks. Interestingly enough, some data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there’s worse severity of this disease in young male children versus female. And this is a hint that it isn’t just hormonal, as people have suggested. We see that same trend in prepubertal gender differences, and we see the same trend in postmenopausal trends. So this is an interesting observation. Our laboratory does studies where we use live, attenuated vaccines as a proxy, if you will, for viral infection. And in all those studies, women have superior immune responses to men.”
Globally, about 60% of deaths attributed to COVID-19 are men, and about 90% are over the age of 60, according to the WHO report. In the U.S., about 80% of deaths from COVID-19 have been in adults over 65.
For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For more information and COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.