Karnataka

Over 71% of those who succumbed to COVID-19 in State are men

Free mass COVID-19 tests being conducted at K.R. Market bus stand in Bengaluru.  

COVID-19 deaths in the State reported among men outnumber those in women by a ratio of 2.5:1. Although the recovery rate among both genders is almost the same, over 71% (8,382 of the 11,678 deaths reported till November 23) are men, according to the State’s COVID War Room data.

Of the total 5,38,674 men who tested positive in the State, 5,18,554 have recovered, registering a recovery rate of 96.2%. Of the 3,35,881 women who tested positive, 3,19,596 have recovered, a recovery rate of 95.2%.

The high mortality in men points to better immune response among women, but some doctors say that it is only proportionate to the case positivity among men.

For both the genders, more than half of the deaths occurred in the age group of 50-60 years and 60-70 years.

Better immune response

Doctors said the apparent gender differences in favour of women in the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 could be due to a better immune response in them. Such trends have also been observed in previous epidemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), they said.

Hema Divakar, consultant gynaecologist/obstetrician, said genes are likely to play an important role. “Women tend to have a more responsive immune system compared to men. Several research studies have shown that estrogen, the dominant female hormone, could influence the response to infection as it exhibits antiviral properties,” she said.

Stating that the outcome and survival rates from infections or sepsis are often better in women than in men, Dr. Divakar said an article written by Issac Mayonda from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, U.K., had explored whether estrogen protected women from COVID-19.

“The X chromosomes, of which women possess two, contain the largest number of immune-related genes of the whole human genome, theoretically giving women double the advantage over men in mounting an efficient and rapid immune response,” she said quoting the article.

Comorbidities

C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, who is also part of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee, said women generally make healthier lifestyle choices as compared to men. “Women do not smoke or drink as much as men, and they have a lower burden of lifestyle diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, hypertension or chronic lung conditions). This factor could be the reason for the high mortality among men,” he explained.

However, Anoop Amarnath, member of Karnataka’s COVID critical care support unit, who heads the department of Geriatric Medicine at Manipal Hospitals, said the mortality is proportionate to the case positivity among men.

Stating that comorbidities may not explain the gender difference, he said: “One potential reason could be the fact that exposure to the virus is high in men compared to women. We need to do a complete analysis regarding this,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 2:12:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/over-71-of-those-who-succumbed-to-covid-19-in-state-are-men/article33172156.ece

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