Men are more likely to die from COVID-19 than women, according to a new study published in the journal Communications Medicine on Wednesday.
The study, Analysis of sex-specific risk factors and clinical outcomes in COVID-19, examined 4,930 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 within the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City from the start of the pandemic until Aug. 5, 2020.
Some 1,645 patients hospitalized with the virus in the same healthcare system from Aug. 5, 2020, to Jan. 13 was also reviewed.
“Men are at higher risk of death from COVID-19 than women, but the underlying reasons are not fully understood,” a team of researchers with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and the University of California, Santa Barbara wrote.
“We observed that men hospitalized with COVID-19 had a higher risk of death than women when other factors [are] taken into account. Some conditions, like low oxygen levels and obesity, appeared to be associated with worse outcomes in women compared to men early in the pandemic but further studies will be necessary for confirmation,” they added.
Some 2,757 or 55.9% of the patients studied were men while 44.1% were women. More than half of the patients were treated in Manhattan facilities, "which had larger bed capacities than facilities in Brooklyn or Queens." Just over 65% of the patients were also admitted before April 13, 2020, when COVID-19 admissions peaked within the hospital system.
The women had a median age of 68, while male patients had a median age of 65. The men were also more likely to be current or former smokers and presented with a variety of conditions such as chronic kidney disease, cancer, chronic liver disease and HIV. Women had issues with obesity, high blood pressure and COPD or asthma.
The new study comes as California-based genomics company Helix also warned in a statement to Reuters Wednesday that the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is now the most prevalent variant among new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
Dr. William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, told Reuters that the company's computer models show that the Delta variant of COVID-19 now accounts for 40% of cases nationwide.
The Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, now accounts for about 15% of new cases. Helix researchers also highlighted what they call occasional cases of an "offspring" variant of Delta called Delta-plus, but they "aren't seeing any evidence suggesting that these are driving the growth of Delta around the country yet," Lee told Reuters.
The CDC explains on its website that the common feature of these variants is that they spread quickly and can create havoc on the nation’s health system. Getting vaccinated, the CDC says, can protect people from severe sickness.
“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths,” the CDC explains. “So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants.”