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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Academics & Research

Men more likely to die from coronavirus in Houston, UH study finds


Out of the 228 Houston coronavirus deaths up until May 29, 131 of the deaths were men. | Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Research has indicated that more men are dying from the coronavirus than women in Houston, creating a 15 percent mortality gap, according to the UH Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality.   

Out of a sample size of 228 coronavirus-related fatalities up until May 29, there were 131 male deaths and 97 female deaths. With an even split in coronavirus infection rates between men and women, men who test positive for the virus have a higher likelihood of dying from it.

The Houston/Harris County sample set (228) is small, so local trends may shift over time,” the study said. “But thus far the area’s gender differential is less stark than in some places.”

The Houston area’s 15 percent mortality gap between men and women is smaller than in some other researched areas. In Italy, 70 percent of coronavirus-related deaths were men, according to the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine

“Specific cause or causes have not been determined,” the UH study said. “But some hormonal or genetic protection, from higher rates of estrogen/progesterone or from the double X chromosome may account for higher rates of female survival.

Age plays a part in how susceptible someone is to the coronavirus, according to the research. Despite there being more older women than men, women are still surviving at higher rates than their male counterparts. 

There are more older women than older men,” the study said. “More female deaths overall might be expected, but the same resiliency that allows women to live longer, in general, seems to be in play with COVID-19 too.”

Beyond gender, trends corresponding to race can also be found in coronavirus mortalities, the research finds. The study says in proportion to the percentage of both black men and women in Harris County’s population, black individuals are overrepresented in the county’s total deaths.

“Though male numbers are higher, deaths among Black women are also disproportionate relative to other women,” the study said. “Both disparities are attributable to longstanding structural social and economic inequalities, including limited health care access, exposure in frontline jobs, underlying health conditions and dense housing.”

The coronavirus-related deaths for Hispanic men are lower than what some may expect, in relation to the 41.9 percent of the area’s adult male population they make up. While Hispanic women make up 38.9 percent of the adult female population, they only account for 24.7 percent of deaths.

This large gap between Hispanic women’s presence in this population and their proportion of deaths invites more research,” the study said.  “It may be linked to lower levels of frontline contact.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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