Emerging data on the novel coronavirus shows some startling statistics: in Florida, 60% of confirmed cases are male and are 70% of deaths are men, according to CNN. Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coordinator for coronavirus response, says that in Italy the numbers show that twice as many males die from the virus as females in any age group. Birx calls it a “concerning trend.”
Statistics from the six countries that have provided data show a similar pattern of men dying at higher rates, according to CNN. In Italy, over 70 percent of those who've died have been men, while in other countries, such as South Korea and France, where more women tested positive for the virus, the death tally was nonetheless higher for men. The global average appears to be that men were 50% more likely than women to die after after being tested and confirmed.
Sarah Hawkes, professor of Global Public Health at the University College London, tells CNN that men are more likely to engage in “adverse behaviors” such as smoking and drinking. Knowing that lifestyle factors may affect outcomes of the disease could help us identify those who are most at risk and may help save lives, say experts.
An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times confirms that cigarette smoking damages lungs, making them more susceptible to infection. However, that may not be the only factor.
Dr. Stanley Perlman, a pediatric infectious disease expert, has another spin on the death rate disparity. He conducted a series of experiments infecting male and female mice with the coronaviruses that caused respiratory distress. At every age, according to the Los Angeles Times, male mice were more susceptible to infection than females. However, when the ovaries from the female mice were removed, the death rates shot up. These findings led Perlman to speculate that there is something about estrogen that protects against the deadly virus — and he thinks this is true for the new virus as well.
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