Is it True that Young Men are More Susceptible to COVID-19?

May 08, 2020

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The novel coronavirus has now caused more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Having originated in China, the disease quickly relocated its epicenter to Europe and now the United States. Countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of infection. This practice appears to be working in Italy as the country reports fewer daily cases. For the United States, however, it seems that the peak of infections has yet to be realized.

The Trefis Team, a data analyst for Forbes, suggests that the coronavirus could peak at around 730k cases – a number reflective of the 59 cases per million plateau in Italy. An interesting thing to note of these infections is the alarming rate of male infections.

It seems that men are more susceptible to dying from the novel disease, whether this is lifestyle focused or biologically influenced is yet to be conclusive. The suggestion is that men excessively drink and smoke more – two qualities that inhibit the immune system’s response.

Smoking and vaping clogs the lungs with foreign particles that make breathing more difficult. When this is combined with pneumonia caused by COVID-19, the outcome could be fatal. In terms of biology, there is data to suggest that women simply have better immune systems than men.

Scientists in Wuhan also made suggestions that the disease could affect sperm counts and sexual ability, however, this isn’t currently supported by peer-reviewed studies or data. It’s important to know that the coronavirus is still growing and the possibility for mutation is something to consider.

However, scientists believe the connection between men and fatality rates could be supported by history. The data from Sars-CoV-2 shows a similar pattern, males died more from the disease by up to 50% more than women.

In general, men are more susceptible to heart diseases, cancers, and other life-threatening conditions. Put simply, men die younger and appear to be more fragile than women with respect to immune-support.

Now, this doesn’t mean that being a male and contracting COVID-19 is a death sentence. The majority of the cases being reported are not mild or asymptomatic, meaning that there’s a large majority of unreported cases. To calculate the death rate based on reported cases alone simply isn’t accurate.

The sheer scale of unreported cases could be astonishing given that 30-50% of all cases result in no symptoms at all. LiveScience estimates that the death rate could even be as low as 0.66% if these numbers were being reported.

Measuring data from Johns Hopkins, we can see that there is a total of 463,651 cases that had an outcome (death or recovery). From this data, we can see that 98,401 people died – a total of 26.9% for all closed cases.

Of the reported deaths, two-thirds of them were male. However, age appears to be a bigger factor in the mortality rate with 80% of all deaths being elderly (over 60).

Regardless of susceptibility and odds of mortality, your focus should be on staying safe. Practice social distancing and follow CDC guidelines for wearing adequate protection when venturing out in public.