Sex differences in the case-fatality rates for COVID-19—A comparison of the age-related differences and consistency over seven countries

Manfred S. Green, Dorit Nitzan, Naama Schwartz, Yaron Niv, Victoria Peer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was noted that males seemed to have higher case-fatality rates than females. We examined the magnitude and consistency of the sex differences in age-specific case-fatality rates (CFRs) in seven countries. Methods Data on the cases and deaths from COVID-19, by sex and age group, were extracted from the national official agencies from Denmark, England, Israel, Italy, Spain, Canada and Mexico. Age-specific CFRs were computed for males and females separately. The ratio of the male to female CFRs were computed and meta-analytic methods were used to obtained pooled estimates of the male to female ratio of the CFRs over the seven countries, for all age-groups. Meta-regression and sensitivity analysis were conducted to evaluate the age and country contribution to differences. Results The CFRs were consistently higher in males at all ages. The pooled M:F CFR ratios were 1.71, 1.88, 2.11, 2.11, 1.84, 1.78 and 1.49, for ages 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, 80+ respectively. In meta-regression, age group and country were associated with the heterogeneity in the CFR ratios. Conclusions The sex differences in the age-specific CFRs are intriguing. Sex differences in the incidence and mortality have been found in many infectious diseases. For COVID-19, factors such as sex differences in the prevalence of underlying diseases may play a part in the CFR differences. However, the consistently greater case-fatality rates in males at all ages suggests that sex-related factors impact on the natural history of the disease. This could provide important clues as to the mechanisms underlying the severity of COVID-19 in some patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0250523
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number4 April 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences in the case-fatality rates for COVID-19—A comparison of the age-related differences and consistency over seven countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this