Are women more resistant to COVID-19 than men?

Of the COVID-19 deaths recorded in Belgium so far slightly more men have died than women. This is despite more women having tested positive for the virus. The question of whether a person’s sex determines whether they are more likely to become infected and suffer greater ill-effects if they do so was discussed at Tuesday morning’s press National Crisis Centre press conference. 

Professor Steven De Gucht said that "Women too can become seriously ill and die from COVID-19.  However, it is true that certainly among the young section of the population men appear to be more susceptible to complications and more serious illness. This is something that we see generally. Women are more resistant to infectious diseases”.

"Viruses mostly recognise women as the strongest sex. We don’t know exactly why this is. It could possibly be linked to hormones, female hormones could possibly work to protect, while male hormones have a negative effect. It could also be genetic. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have just one. X-chromosomes contain genes that are linked to the immune system”.   

"So yes women are a little more resistant. We see that among people of very advanced years, people over 85 that more women are dying than men. This is simply because there are more women in this age category”, Professor Van Gucht added.


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