Men at greater risk of COVID-19

More than 70% of early COVID-19 patients who have been admitted to intensive care units in the UK are men, according to the first report from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre.

The analysis is of 196 patients receiving critical hospital treatment after testing positive for COVID-19 that were admitted between 29 February and 19 March. The data covers all NHS adult, general intensive care and combined intensive care and high dependency units across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus some specialist critical care units.

The average age of patients was 64, with 30% aged between 70 and 79. The majority of patients had no severe existing conditions prior to being infected, with 87 being able to live ‘without assistance in daily living’.

Only three people (1.6%) had a severe respiratory condition before contracting COVID-19, four (2.1%) had a severe kidney condition, and seven (3.7%) had an impaired immune system. None had cardiovascular comorbidity. Just over 70% of patients had a body mass index (BMI) over 25, with 7% having a BMI of more than 40.

Peter Baker, Director of Global Action on Men’s Health, says: ‘The data now emerging from several countries shows that a majority of those infected by COVID-19 are men and that a very significant majority of deaths are in men. This is probably due to a mix of biological and behavioural factors, such as immune response, smoking and less assiduous hand-washing. What we need now is research to understand exactly why men are more likely to be affected and, more immediately, collaboration between governments and men’s health organisations to develop targeted interventions that enable men to minimise their risk of infection.’

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