Why the coronavirus seems to hit men harder than women

An analysis of coronavirus cases released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the virus is particularly harmful to middle-aged and older adults. Researchers also noted that both men and women have been infected in approximately equal numbers, but the death rate among men was 2.8%, compared with 1.7% among women.

An analysis of coronavirus cases released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the virus is particularly harmful to middle-aged and older adults. Researchers also noted that both men and women have been infected in approximately equal numbers, but the death rate among men was 2.8%, compared with 1.7% among women. The difference may be attributed to various biological factors, such as the female hormone estrogen playing a role in immunity. Women also carry two X chromosomes, which contain immune-related genes. Health behaviors that differ by sex in some societies may also play a role in responses to infections. China has 316 million smokers who represent nearly one-third of smokers globally, comprising 40% of worldwide tobacco consumption. Only about 2% of Chinese women smoke, compared with more than one-half of all men. Chinese men also have higher rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure than women in the country, while rates of COPD are almost twice as high among Chinese men as among women. Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunology at Yale University who studies why some viruses affect women more severely, points out that men may have a "false sense of security" when it comes to the coronavirus. Sabra Klein, PhD, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies sex differences in viral infections and vaccine responses, says studies indicate that men are less likely to wash their hands or to use soap than women.