Different Covid-19 severity levels in men and women

On average, men are more severely affected by Covid-19. Cathérine Gebhard and her research team looked for an explanation.

On average, SARS CoV-2 infection has worse consequences for men than for women. Men are more likely to have a severe course of the disease and are thus more likely to die as a result. However, until recently it was unclear whether this was due to biological differences or gender-specific characteristics, i.e. sociocultural factors.

To address this question, Cathérine Gebhard and her research team from the University of Zurich conducted a study of 3005 Covid-19 patients from Switzerland as part of the SNSF's Special Call on Coronaviruses. They determined the gender-specific characteristics using a validated questionnaire and compiled the participants' clinical data from electronic medical records.

Quelle: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00134-022-06836-5.pdf

Analyses showed that male biological characteristics were associated with increased hospitalisation rates, need for artificial ventilation, and higher mortality, with no significant role for gender-specific characteristics. Interestingly, these differences disappeared after hospitalisation so that women no longer had an “advantage”. Assertiveness, strong personality, and lower level of education were the only gender-specific parameters that predicted disease severity. In the cohort studied, women had a lower educational level on average, indicating the initial inequality in the health distribution of the two groups.

The results of the study showed that men with Covid-19 have a higher risk of more severe disease progression than women with Covid-19 due to their biological characteristics, but only until they are hospitalised. Further research is needed to understand what causes these gender-specific differences. The risk factors identified in the study will be useful in future discussions and decision-making on additional protective measures and booster vaccinations.