While COVID-19 affects both men and women, there are more men who have developed severe illnesses and dying from COVID-19. Looking at the ways that sex differences can affect the immune system can be the way to get answers for why.
The first reports out of China showed the discrepancy between men and women. Of Italy’s total death toll, 64% were men. It was 59% in Spain and 58% in Germany.
The United States does not release the information based on sex, but some individual states do. In New York, as of April 21st, 60% of the 15,302 deaths were men.
There are a few different reasons as to why this discrepancy exists.
First off, men are more likely to have other health problems, such as hypertension or diabetes. Both are underlying conditions that can cause a higher risk of severe cases of COVID-19.
Studies have also found that women have a stronger immune system than men. While this means that women are less susceptible to the disease, it also means they can be more like to develop immunity deficiencies. You can see the a female’s stronger immune system in the innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate is the first response against viruses, while the adaptive is delayed by the necessary time to release antibodies. The proteins that make up the immune systems in a person are stronger in women, with the receptor 7 protein. These proteins can recognize a virus’ molecules faster, meaning that the body identifies the virus.
Estrogen has also been known to boost the innate and adaptive systems. The chemical can stimulate the production of interferons, which some of which are associated with response of B cells, which produce antibodies.
While this difference doesn’t mean that we should take cases in men more seriously than those in women, it is important to understand the causes of these discrepancies and how the virus can affect us in different ways.
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