COVID-19: Its Effect on Specific GroupsPage 7 of 8

5. Men and COVID: Understanding Sex Differences

A photo of a man coughing.


Authors: Derek M. Griffith PhD, Garima Sharma, MD, Christopher S. Holliday, PhD, MPH, et al.


Data suggest that more men than women are dying of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, but it is unclear why. A biopsychosocial approach is critical for understanding the disproportionate death rate among men. Biological, psychological, behavioral, and social factors may put men at disproportionate risk of death. We propose a stepwise approach to clinical, public health, and policy interventions to reduce COVID-19–associated morbidity and mortality among men. We also review what health professionals and policy makers can do, and are doing, to address the unique COVID-19–associated needs of men.

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is shining a spotlight on the neglect of men’s health at local, state, national, and global levels. According to the largest body of publicly available sex-disaggregated data from global government sources, although no apparent sex differences exist in the number of confirmed cases, more men than women have died of COVID-19 in 41 of 47 countries, and the overall COVID-19 case-fatality ratio is approximately 2.4 times higher among men than among women.

In the largest survey of 72,314 suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China (men, 63.8% of cases; women, 36.2% of cases), the case-fatality ratio was higher among men (2.8%) than among women (1.7%). Another study from China, of critically ill patients, showed that men with comorbidities such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes had the highest mortality and U.S. data showed similar patterns.


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