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Women fare better than men in the COVID-19 pandemic

As scientists and researchers have had more time to study COVID-19, a few trends have emerged: age and pre-existing heart and metabolic conditions are associated with worse outcomes. Now, researchers are seeing a difference in sexes as well.

Small studies in China revealed men experience higher disease severity compared to women, and men with comorbidities also had higher likelihood of critical illness. Reviews of data from Europe showed similar findings.

Researchers from the Center for Outcomes Research at the Houston Methodist Research Institute wanted to know if there were also sex differences in COVID-19 across a U.S. metropolitan area. They used data from Houston Methodist, an 8-hospital healthcare system in the fourth largest and most diverse city in the U.S., to determine if men, compared to women, had higher rates of susceptibility to COVID-19, as well as worse in-hospital outcomes.

Almost 16% of patients in the group from Houston Methodist tested positive for COVID-19, and men tended to have a higher positivity rate than women. Men also had “significantly” higher rates of ICU care, higher rates of ventilation in-hospital death. It was clear: there was an association between male sex and susceptibility of contracting COVID-19.

“Males seem to be more likely to contract the SRAS-CoV-2 virus and also have a poor clinical course and outcomes related to COVID-19, compared to females,” the study authors said. “The exact contribution of gender and sex factors in susceptibility and outcomes of COVID-19 need further investigation.”

The study was published in PLOS One.

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