Are men and women feeling the effects of the coronavirus differently?

Research from China suggests that while COVID-19 is infecting men and women in about equal numbers, women appear less likely to die from the virus than men.

A study of some 44,600 people with COVID-19 from the Chinese Center for Disease Control showed the death rate among men was 2.8%, compared with 1.7% for women.

 

Scientists say there could be a number of reasons for this difference, including biological and lifestyle factors. For example, Chinese men are much more likely than women to smoke, which harms the immune system. Also, women tend to produce stronger immune responses against infections than men.

But in other, perhaps less obvious ways, the virus appears to disproportionately affect women. As the fight against COVID-19 continues, an increasing number of women around the world are on the front lines. Many of them will be expected to work longer hours, while juggling domestic responsibilities such as childcare.

Here are a few examples of coronavirus’s gendered impact.

  • Women comprise the majority of health and social care workers, and are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
  • Mass school closures have particularly affected women because they still bear much of the responsibility for childcare.
  • Women already do three-times as much unpaid care work than men – and caring for relatives with the virus adds to the burden.

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