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Men are more susceptible to coronavirus, study by GHS reveals!

A report by the Ghana Health Services (GHS) has found that 59per cent males in the country had tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 14.

This is against 41per cent females who tested positive for the virus.

It had been well-publicised that the new coronavirus discriminates by age and by underlying health conditions, but has become increasingly apparent that it also discriminates by sex, with men more likely to test positive and die from the virus.

The trend was first seen in China, where a study found a fatality rate of 2.8per cent in men compared with 1.7per cent in women.

Since then, the pattern had mirrored in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Ghana.

In Italy, men have accounted for 71per cent death while in Spain twice as many men as women died from a  recent data released.

In South Korea, 54per cent of the reported deaths were among men despite extensive testing showed that more women tested positive for the virus.

However, this is not the first time that a coronavirus has shown gender inequality.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreaks were also found to affect men more significantly.

This trend was replicated in labs with mice studies, where it was found that male mice were more susceptible to SARS.

This was assessed by measuring their viral load, as well as inflammatory markers in the lungs which lead to lung damage.

As the SARS virus and COVID-19 share 79 per cent of the same genetic sequencing, it is possible that a similar mechanism may be at play with COVID-19.

In a quest to unravel the mystery, why men are more susceptible to COVID-19 no scientific data has confirmed the reasons behind the mystery but theories and studies have suggested some underlying fact.

Many theories blamed the gender disparity to smoking.

In China, nearly 50per cent of men but only about two per cent of women smoke, and so underlying differences in lung health were assumed to contribute to men suffering worse symptoms and outcomes.

In Italy about 28per cent of men and 19per cent of women smoke, thus the reason men continue to be overrepresented in Covid-19 statistics.

Other studies showed that men hardly listen to medical advice, they are less likely to wash their hands with soap and are less likely to seek medical attention when having health conditions.

However, other studies suggest that men may be worse at hand hygiene than women.

A study by United States of America in 2009 showed that only 31per cent of men washed their hands after using a public toilet.

It was also stated that women seek medical help earlier than men when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

“Men always wait until their symptoms become severe, thereby reducing their chances of survival,” the study said.

However, there is a growing belief among experts that more fundamental biological factors are also at play.

A suggested explanation for the immunological difference between men and women may be due to hormones.

Studies have shown that immunity to viruses varies with changes in hormone concentrations, which occur at different stages of the menstrual cycle and can be affected by taking contraception during pregnancy and after menopause.

Therefore, it is feasible that female hormones might be, in part, responsible for the COVID-19 gender imbalance.

Another reason that women’s immune systems may function differently is because of the extra X chromosome that women have.

Women have two X chromosomes (XX) while men only have one (XY), and this is considered relevant to immune response because a significant number of genes that regulate the immune response are coded on the X chromosome, thus women having the extra X confers some advantage.

While there has been no scientific explanation to confirm the gender disparity in the COVID-19 case, further information from immunology and antibody studies would help unravel the mystery.

BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE

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Written by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

I am An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist.

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