Men worse off amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Recent research has found that while the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has no sex bias in terms of transmission, men are considerably more vulnerable to severe infection and worse outcomes.
Conducting a meta-analysis of 3,111,714 reported cases, the researchers found that the sex split was even: men comprised 50 percent (estimate, 0.50, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.48–0.51; p=0.56) of the total number of patients who had been infected with COVID-19. This suggested that men and women were comparably at risk of being infected.
However, outcomes differed significantly. The risk of needing to be admitted into intensive therapy units was almost three times as high in men than in women (odds ratio [OR], 2.84, 95 percent CI, 2.06–3.92; p=1.86×10–10).
Similarly, the likelihood of death was nearly 50-percent greater in men (OR, 1.39, 95 percent CI, 1.31–1.47; p=5.00×10–30).
Subsequent funnel plots and sensitivity analyses found that the evidence was reliable, and that findings were unlikely to be affected by reporting bias. To the contrary, the risk estimate for mortality in men may even be an underestimate, the researchers pointed out.
“Although further studies are needed, these data have implications for the clinical management of COVID-19 and highlight the importance of considering sex as a variable in fundamental and clinical research,” they said.
In the present analysis, a total of 90 reports were retrieved to obtain the study population. Most of the sources were obtained from government websites, official blogs of established medical organizations, and published research articles. Only reports that disaggregated the total number of infections by sex and looked at disease severity in terms of death and intensive care admission were eligible.