Higher mortality in men from COVID19 infection-understanding the factors that drive the differences between the biological sexes
Iyer, Swaminathan P et al.
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The emergent global pandemic caused by the rapid spread of Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome- Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to increased mortality and negatively impacted day to day activities of humankind within a short period of time. As the data is rapidly emerging from earlier outbreak locations around the world, there are efforts to assimilate this with the knowledge from prior epidemics and find rapid solutions for this. One of the observations and a recurring theme is the disproportionate differences in the incidence of infection and the consequent mortality between males and females. We, therefore, analyzed retrospective datasets from the previous epidemics and the ongoing pandemic in order to address these differences in clinical outcomes. The data shows that even though the infection rates are similar, the odds ratio of male mortality remains high, indicating a divergence in the crosstalk between the three pathogenic human Coronavirus (hCoVs)- the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and the SARS-CoV-2 and immune effectors in the two sexes. One proximate cause is the sex-specific modulation of the X-linked genes that can influence susceptibility to infection. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings, which can form the basis for developing rational strategies for ending the current and preventing future pandemics.