The Covid-19 data, recorded in the last few days, indicate a noticeable difference between positive cases among women and men. On September 15, 202 males had tested positive, as compared to 145 women. On September 18, the difference was stark with 172 men being diagnosed with the disease and 88 women contracting the same.
According to the latest data from Chandigarh, out of the total cases reported, as many as 6,048 men have tested positive for novel coronavirus and 4,156 women have been diagnosed with the disease. Till now, 74 men have succumbed to the Covid-19 infection and 46 women have died due to the infection.
As per a sex-disaggregated case data (August, 2020) of select countries presented by the United Nations (UN) Women, in India, there are 35 per cent of confirmed cases of women and 65 per cent of men Covid-19 patients. Of course, with the lack of effectively compiled data from government sources, one does not know the access women in low-income and poor families have to medical facilities, and how many of them understand the gravity of the pandemic and the conditions that accompany it. The World Health Organization (WHO) had reported that 63 per cent of deaths related to Covid-19 in Europe have been among men. In New York City alone, men have been dying of Covid-19 at twice the rate that of women. However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently is not reporting Covid-19 deaths by gender.
“Researchers across the world have postulated various theories regarding the reason behind men being more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women. A study published on May 10, reported that men have higher concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in their blood than women. Since ACE2 enables the coronavirus to infect healthy cells, this may help to explain why men are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women,” says Dr Vikas Bhutani, an internal medicine specialist.
Some experts, adds the doctor, are of the opinion that part of the reason behind Covid-19 infection affecting less number of women is that they tend to have stronger immune systems than men. According to others, genetics may also play a big role, as women have extra X chromosome which enables a stronger immune system and better response to infections than men. Furthermore, men tend to engage in more risky behaviour, such as ignoring physical distancing and tend to not take symptoms as seriously, thus, exposing themselves more to the risk of contracting Covid-19 infection than women– though it may not be true for all men. According to an article published in Lancet in April, adverse results of the disease are associated with co-morbidities like hypertension, lung and cardiovascular diseases, which are more common in men.
A city-based sociologist Rajesh Gill reflects on the difference in infection between men and women, and says that besides medical reasons, as a fact, more men are at jobs or vocations that require public dealings and thus, more exposed to the threat of getting infected, such as shopkeepers, chemists, vendors, labourers, security and police personnel, among others. “While salaried people like us have the privilege to work from home, the daily wagers need to go out to work with more men. As for responsibility levels regarding wearing masks, washing hands, I can only hope that there is no disparity in gender in this regard, though yes, the young may be more casual in their approach.”
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