Scientists discover men are more inclined to contract coronavirus than women

The National Guard | Wikimedia Commons

The National Guard | Wikimedia Commons

Farah Javed, Managing Editor

Scientists have found that there is a disparity between the number of women and men infected with COVID-19. A recent study conducted by the Montefiore Health System, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases revealed that women recover faster from the virus than men do.

First, they nasal swabbed patients to determine whether they had the coronavirus. Once an individual tested positive for the virus, they were closely monitored and issued a nasal swab test daily until they tested negative. On average, it took four days for women to fully recover from the virus and six days for men.

The results of this study are magnified by the reported coronavirus numbers around the world. “Of Italy’s 21,551 deaths recorded as of April 20, 64 percent were men,” Science News reported. “In Spain, 59 percent of the 12,634 deaths as of April 21 occurred in men. Germany had recorded 4,598 deaths by April 21, with 58 percent in men.”

Even in the United States, though most states do not categorize reported numbers by gender, the disproportionality is still evident. Of those currently on ventilators due to COVID-19, “More than two-thirds of the intubated patients are men,” said Dr. Joseph Lowy, a palliative care and hospice doctor at N.Y.U. Langone Health. “I know of no other disease that has that type of predilection for one gender over another.”

The research and numbers seem tohave a correlation, but scientists have yet to determine what the causation is. Although there is no clear reasoning behind why men take longer to recover from the coronavirus than women, scientists have some possible theories to explain it.

One theory stems from the chemical composition of the COVID-19 thread itself, as explained by Big Think. In order for the coronavirus to infect a cell, “It must latch onto an angiotensin-converting enzyme II, or ACE2. These enzymes are attached to the cellular membranes of cells in organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and intestines.”

Thus, bodies with more ACE2 would be more susceptible to getting infected and having the virus remain in their bodies longer. Coming to this conclusion, the researchers of the study consulted numerous experts until they found that “ACE2 was highly expressed in testicular cells but had little expression in ovarian cells.” Thus, men would be more liable to getting the coronavirus than women.

A second theory created by some scientists delves into how the biological difference between men and women impact their vulnerability. In terms of bodily makeup, men and women have proteins that defend the body against ailments and invasions, but they do not operate in the same way. Therefore, the hormones and proteins of women could be acting as protection against the coronavirus, while its absence in men could make them more vulnerable.

Additionally, men tend to have weaker immune systems than women. “Some of that discrepancy could be because men are more likely than women to have other health problems, such as hypertension and diabetes,” Science News explained. “These are among the underlying conditions that raise the risk for severe COVID-19 disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported April 3.”

Health officials have said numerous times that those with pre-existing health conditions or who are immuno-compromised have a higher chance of contracting the coronavirus and suffering from stronger side effects . Considering men tend to have more health problems than women, it makes sense that men experience coronavirus symptoms longer and are hospitalized for it more frequently.

Some scientists theorize that societal behaviors could be playing a hand in the disparity, citing “that men have tended to seek care later in the course of a disease than women do,” according to National Public Radio. They also highlight men being less inclined to get medical help is not unique to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the Ebola virus outbreak, it was reported that men often neglected to seek vital medical care as well. As a result of this, more men died from the virus than women did. With trends around the globe suggesting males are more inclined to contract the virus, it begs the question as to why they are so reluctant to go to the doctor.

One possible explanation of this may be fear. “As a primary care doctor, I think the number one reason men avoid the doctor is fear,” Dr. Tisha Rowe, founder of the telemedicine network RoweDocs, said. “They worry about a bad diagnosis or a bad outcome.”

Rowe also mentions another factor contributing to male reluctance could be the concept of a superhero complex. To some men, going to the doctor is a sign of weakness. It displays a sense of vulnerability and “men don’t like being vulnerable,” Rowe added.

Whether for chemical, biological, or social reasons, it is clear that men are more susceptible to the coronavirus, leaving them with longer lasting symptoms. Regardless of gender, men and women alike should take special care to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s issued health measures.

People should also seek out medical health if they feel ill and stay home when possible to avoid jeopardizing their health and safety of others. Though COVID-19 appears to affect men more than women, all people can do is take health precautions seriously and hope for a vaccine.