Men with COVID-19 in B.C. about twice as likely to end up in hospital as women, top doctor says
Finding is similar around the world, says provincial health officer
B.C.'s provincial health officer says men with COVID-19 are more likely to end up in hospital than women with the virus, though the reason remains unclear.
The province has released the data showing the age range and sex of patients with COVID-19, but not the severity of each case.
The results align with the rest of the country and the world when it comes to men experiencing more severe cases of the disease, Dr. Bonnie Henry said at her daily media briefing on Thursday.
"Two thirds of people who've been admitted to hospital are male. So that is overrepresentation of men, compared to women — given our cases were less than half," said Henry, adding that women make up about 53 per cent of infections in the province.
Men with COVID-19 are twice as likely to wind up in hospital than women with the virus. In intensive care units, men make up between 60 and 70 per cent of cases, she said.
Only speculation as to why men fare worse
"But the whole question of why men are more likely to be — to have more serious illness than women, is one that is being asked around the world," she said. "Some people's theories are that our immune systems are different, men and women."
Henry said it remains speculation, but it has been suggested that the way women have adapted to give birth to children — to have pregnancies that aren't rejected by their immune systems — could be a factor.
"And men on the other hand are more likely to have more of the proteins, the cytokines, that cause our immune system to get excited and to attack viruses that invade our system," she said.
Henry said other factors leading to the difference could be underlying health issues, like heart disease and diabetes, or even genetic factors.
"We just don't know yet," she said.