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Current Affairs

Why Covid-19 hits men harder?

Date: 30 August 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The coronavirus may infect anyone, young or old, but older men are up to twice as likely to become severely sick and to die as women of the same age.

 

Background

The first study to look at immune response by sex has turned up a clue: Men produce a weaker immune response to the virus than do women.

 

Details

  • The results are consistent with what’s known about sex differences following various challenges to the immune system.

  • Women mount faster and stronger immune responses, perhaps because their bodies are rigged to fight pathogens that threaten unborn or newborn children.

  • But over time, an immune system in a constant state of high alert can be harmful. Most autoimmune diseases, characterized by an overly strong immune response, are much more prevalent in women than in men

  • The findings underscore the need for companies pursing coronavirus vaccines to parse their data by sex and may influence decisions about dosing.

  • The researchers collected blood, nasopharyngeal swabs, saliva, urine, and stool from the patients every three to seven days. Patients on ventilators and drugs were excluded from study.

  • The scientists found, the women’s bodies produced more T-cells, which can kill virus-infected cells and stop the infection from spreading.

  • Men showed much weaker activation of T-cells, and that lag was linked to how sick the men became. The older the men, the weaker their T-cell responses.

  • The patients all had elevated blood levels of cytokines, proteins that rouse the immune system to action. Some types of cytokines, called interleukin-8 and interleukin-18, were elevated in all men but only in some women.

  • The study has limitations. It was small, and the patients were older than 60 on average, making it difficult to assess how the immune response changes with age.

  • The study also did not offer a reason for the differences between men and women. Because the women were past menopause.