More senior men than women died from COVID-19 during the first year of the outbreak, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC found that 309.6 of every 100,000 senior men aged 65-74 died of COVID in 2020, compared to a rate of 168.5 for women.
Death rates were also much higher for men aged 75–84 (757.5 men, 458.5 women) and for those 85 and older (1,925.3 men, 1,485.5 women), according to an age-age-adjusted analysis of 2020 death certificates for Americans 65 and older in a National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief released Friday.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, president-elect of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, blamed the higher death toll on men having more pre-existing conditions that led to COVID deaths.
“Men have more co-morbidities,” said Dr. del Rio, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said male hormones such as testosterone also heighten the risk of dying from the coronavirus. He said older men are more likely than women to experience severe symptoms, be hospitalized and require mechanical respiration.
“Male hormones can augment the severity of certain infectious diseases,” Dr. Adalja said. “With COVID, we’ve clearly seen that males are more likely than females to have severe infections.”
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the report underscores that men experience higher rates of heart disease, lung problems, diabetes and obesity.
“COVID aside, in each age cohort men have a higher fatality rate than women,” Dr. Schaffner said.
The CDC also found that 24.3% of all COVID deaths among adults aged 65 and older occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility, compared to 66.2% in a health care setting such as a hospital and 4.7% at home.