Yale study underway to answer why men are more likely to die from coronavirus than women


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Coronavirus globally appears to have drawn somewhat of a line when it comes to men and women.

From Italy, a report that men made up 70 percent of deaths from the illness.

Data gathered, including here in the U.S., also show men are more likely to have severe symptoms than women, which was first thought to be related to men smoking more than women.

Now, a study funded by Women’s Health Research at Yale, will try to answer why and how immune responses differ between the sexes.    

“We think that undoubtedly there is a biologic component, it might be genetic but we also know there are many other factors like women smoke less than men,” says Director, Dr. Carolyn Mazure.

She goes on to say, “We know the immune systems are different in women and men.  We need to figure out how it’s behaving differently in regard to this particular disease.”

To figure that out, blood drawn from men and women infected will be analyzed at the molecular level then compared to a control group, currently healthy.

“It is very important for us to understand – what about the difference in the sex that dictates how women respond to the virus versus men,” says lead investigator, immunobiologist Dr. Akiko Iwasaki with Yale School of Medicine.

“Women tend to mount a more robust immune response to many things, including vaccines, infectious disease as well as our own self,” says Dr. Iwasaki. “We intrinsically have a stronger and robust immune response to a variety of antigens and this maybe contributing to the protection against SARS-COVID-2.”

SARS-Covid-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Iwasaki says “Sex differences are obviously an important factor.  We also have to think about whether they are practicing the same kind of preventative measures as women are.”  

The hope is what they learn will lead to significant approaches of treating covid in men — as well as women — and ultimately winning the battle against it.    

Other factors researchers will look into include obesity, age, and race.

Study results could be released within six months.  

Dr. Iwasaki does recommend that men be more extra cautious about protecting themselves and doing whatever it takes to avoid being exposed to the virus.

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