Covid-19: Men post worse outcomes than women in earlier waves

Fresh research reveals severe obesity as most extreme risk factor across all models reviewed

The research looked at almost 50,000 cases in the first two waves of the pandemic to create what is said to be the first socio-economic picture of those most affected. File photograph: Getty

The research looked at almost 50,000 cases in the first two waves of the pandemic to create what is said to be the first socio-economic picture of those most affected. File photograph: Getty

 

Men were about 1½ times more likely to be hospitalised, admitted to intensive care (ICU) or die with Covid-19 during earlier waves of the pandemic, according to new Irish research.

People living in rural areas were disproportionately at risk of hospitalisation. But those in urban areas were more likely to have been admitted to ICU, the University College Cork and Technological University Dublin study found.

The research looked at almost 50,000 cases in the first two waves of the pandemic to create what is said to be the first socio-economic picture of those most affected.

Some 8 per cent of those identified with symptomatic infection required hospitalisation, and 1.3 per cent were admitted to ICU, while 2.8 per cent died.

Areas with a greater percentage of local authority housing were more likely to have people hospitalised with the virus, the analysis shows.

Severe obesity was identified as the most extreme risk factor across all models. Those with a body-mass index of 40 or over were about 19 times more likely to require treatment in ICU and 10 times more likely to die.

Serious illness

People with asthma were also at heightened risk, with a significantly increased rate of hospitalisation. However, the authors note that other studies have found asthma may in fact be a protective factor against serious Covid-19 illness. They also say Ireland has the fourth highest global prevalence of asthma.

In relation to the relative risk faced by men and women, the authors say there is a strong evidence base to suggest that upon infection, women may be better equipped to respond initially, compared to men. 

“Numerous studies have shown that females are generally less susceptible to viral infections and mount higher innate immune responses than their male counterparts, leading to faster viral clearance.”