Why is the coronavirus so much more deadly for men than for women?

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Men seem to be worse off than women in this coronavirus pandemic, that’s according to statistics emerging from across the world (at the time of publication, at least…).


On Friday, the White House COVID-19 Task Force director Dr. Deborah Birx stated that a report from Italy shows that men in almost every age bracket seem to be dying at higher rates than women.

She called it a…

concerning trend

The seemingly apparent gender gap over in Italy mimicks earlier statistics from other countries that were iht pretty hard too. And initial early accounts have hinted that boys and men are more likely to become seriously ill than are girls and women and that men are more likely to die.


The Italian health authorities, just in this last week, have reported that among around 14k cases of COVID-19 and some 800 deaths between Feb. 21 and Mar. 12, it’s the men that account for 58% of all cases and a staggering 72% of deaths.

Hospitalized men that have the COVID-19 were around 75% more likely to die than were women hospitalized with this so-named ‘SARS’ type respiratory disease.

These figures are in agreement with the early accounts from China, where the coronavirus first cropped up, and from South Korea, where detection and movement of coronavirus infections have been tracked quite comprehensively.

By analyzing all COVID-19 patient profile studies that were filed in China from December 2019 to February 2020, there is the data to show that men account for roughly 60% of those who are infected and become ill. China’s Center for Disease Control reported that the fatality rate among men with confirmed coronavirus infections was approximately 65% higher than it was among women.


Even in groups of children younger than 16, coronavirus could affect boys more so than girls. A recent report that studied 171 children and adolescents that had been treated for COVID-19 at the Wuhan Children’s Hospital saw that 61% were male.

And again in South Korea, we see that men made up nearly 62% of all cases there too, infected men were 89% more likely to die than were women, and we see a trend here, wouldn’t you agree?

But could there be other factors at work here?

Well only time will tell, but we can see from what we know already that the picture is quite clear, even a delve into the recent past shows the same trend!

As shown in a series of experiments in 2016 & 2017, where a team led by Perlman infected male and female mice with the coronaviruses, it caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).  This study showed that at every age, male mice were more susceptible to infection than females.


Interestingly the death rates of infected female mice where many times higher when their ovaries were removed, or when they got drugs that suppressed the activity of the hormone estrogen.

To Perlman, those kinds of discoveries really do lean towards the assumption that there’s something about estrogen that protects against the ravages of deadly coronaviruses and he suspects it’s true for the new SARS-CoV-19 virus as well.

Perlman said:

“Why does estrogen protect the woman, and how? …We’d like to know.”

“[Estrogen has so many important roles in the female body] it’s hard to prove anything”

Compared to other pulmonary diseases men have a distinct advantage as women have long been known to suffer complications and die of influenza at higher rates than men. Also they’re much more likely to develop autoimmune diseases of the lungs.

If scientists can uncover how these statistics and conclusions from previous studies can help us, they could identify better strategies for fighting coronavirus.

So, all us women could hold the key, at least in part, to driving a solution, at least we hope!