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Coronavirus: Women are better at fighting the virus than men, study claims

A man wearing a mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a woman doing a yoga pose for photos in Beijing on Thursday, July 2, 2020
A man wearing a mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past a woman doing a yoga pose for photos in Beijing on Thursday, July 2, 2020 Copyright AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
Copyright AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
By Alessio Dell'Anna
Published on Updated
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Women are better at fighting coronavirus than men - and researchers think they know why

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Around 60% of those who have died from COVID-19 worldwide are men, a study has claimed.

Yale University researchers, trying to find a biological explanation for the discrepancy, have found that women may trigger a better immune response to the virus.

"We now have clear data suggesting that the immune landscape in COVID-19 patients is considerably different between the sexes and that these differences may underlie heightened disease susceptibility in men,” Professor of Immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki explained.

Researchers collected nasal saliva and blood samples and observed key differences in the immune systems during the early phase of the infection.

Female patients had a more "robust" activation of so-called T-cells, which are white blood cells that detect viruses and eliminated them, even in old age.

On the contrary, the study suggested that poor T-cell response in men led to a worsening of the disease.

Based on these findings, the researchers said a coronavirus vaccine should "elevate T-cell immune response" in male patients, suggesting different approaches based on the patient's sex.

"Researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines should consider separate strategies for women and men so that everyone can benefit,” said Women’s Health Research at Yale Director Carolyn M. Mazure.

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