Nanor Pontigian Science and tech Editor, The Pawprint
A new question has risen from this whole pandemic of the Coronavirus. Since, the beginning, mortality rates in China have revealed that more men than women were dying due to the disease. This has now become a trend all around the world. According to the research men are twice as likely to be hospitalised and die from COVID-19 in comparison to women.
Professor Sandra Klien has realized this pattern since the outbreak in Wuhan started. When she submitted this data, it was rejected as it was “premature”. She found this obvious clear difference in numbers in the intensive care units (ICU), where almost 70%-80% of patients with confirmed cases are men.
Currently they don’t have any data specifically for COVID-19, but in many other viruses females have been known to have a stronger immune response to viral infections, as opposed to men.
Scientifically, immune cells (receptors) will usually be able to detect if something foreign enters the body. One of these receptors, toll like receptor 7 is only present on the X chromosome. Males only have 1 X chromosome, and females have 2. Having 2 X chromosomes, has increased the activity and expression of the toll like receptor 7.
This receptor has very important antiviral immune responses, which activate the cells that will clear the virus from your system. This might mean that women are able to detect the virus better because of the increased activity of the receptor. Other viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C have revealed a similar trend.
This heightened immune system can be dangerous if your body responds like this to your needed pathogens, this can lead to autoimmune diseases. Due to this roughly 80% of autoimmune patients are women.
Female hormones like Estrogen and Progesterone, can also play an important role in immune system reactions. Every cell in the immune system of the female body has receptors for these hormones. This allows them to control the body’s response to the virus through the immune cells.
While talking about the different regulations of the immune system according to gender has been controversial, it has started to prove to be crucial for research and observation in the race to find a vaccine.