In all countries, the situation is the same. While women and men are equally infected with Covid-19, the latter are more likely to die from it, even if age is the main risk factor for the development of a severe form. “Men are more at risk of hospitalization for Covid-19 and account for 58% of hospital deaths. They are also the majority in intensive care: they represent around two thirds of the people hospitalized in these services ”, underlines epidemiologist Daniel Lévy-Bruhl, head of the respiratory infections unit of Public Health France (SPF).
“Lethality [la probabilité de décéder en cas d’infection] is twice as high in men over 25 years, abounds Mircea Sofonea, epidemiologist at the Mivegec laboratory (infectious diseases and vectors), at the University of Montpellier. But it should be kept in mind that the proportion of women increases going up the age pyramid. ” This reduces the gender mortality gap at the population level.
How to explain this difference? “These figures mainly reflect the different prevalence of risk factors depending on gender., explains Daniel Lévy-Bruhl. Men are more likely than women to have a comorbidity that influences the risk of severe form. “ For example, more of them are affected by diabetes or chronic cardio-respiratory diseases. “In the population aged 65 and over, the risk of suffering from an aggravating comorbidity or obesity is higher in men than in women”, confirms a study by the direction of research, studies, evaluation and statistics on “social inequalities in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic”, published in July 2020.
Better immune protection
But the differences in comorbidities do not explain everything. “It could be that being male is a risk factor on its own”, specifies Daniel Lévy-Bruhl. “We are starting to understand certain underlying biological mechanisms, even if a lot remains to be done, notes Jean-Charles Guéry, who heads the team on sexual differences in immunity at the Toulouse Institute of Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases. There are gender differences in immunity: women are more likely than men to develop autoimmune or allergic diseases; they are less affected than men by severe forms of Covid-19. “
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