Women may mount stronger Covid-19 immune response: study

Updated 27 Aug 2020

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Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women. — AFP
Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women. — AFP

PARIS: A new study looking at male and female immune responses to the new coronavirus may shed new light on why men are more likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19, researchers said on Wednesday.

Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men, particularly older men, are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women of a similar age, but scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint exactly why.

A new study published in the journal Nature noted that globally men account for about 60 per cent of deaths from Covid-19 and looked at whether differences in immune responses could explain why.

“What we found was that men and women indeed develop different types of immune responses to Covid-19,” said the study’s lead author Akiko Iwasaki, a professor at Yale University, in a video.

The immunity specialist said “these differences may underlie heightened disease susceptibility in men”.

Researchers collected nasal, saliva, and blood samples from non-infected control subjects and patients with the disease who were treated at Yale New Haven Hospital in the United States.

They then monitored patients to look at their immune responses.

Researchers found that women mounted a more robust immune response involving T lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell that can recognise viruses and eliminate them.

This was the case even among older women, the study found.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2020