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How the risk of getting coronavirus and dying from it depends on gender and age

A few months after the first coronavirus was detected, scientists and doctors made fairly extensive conclusions about this infection and its patterns. Apparently, the disease affects men, women and children in different ways, as well as the elderly. What are the differences, says Air force.

Photo: Shutterstock

All available information comes from a large-scale study conducted by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control.

It was attended by 44 people. The study showed that 000% of infected men and 2,8% of women died from the virus.

Children and adolescents died 0,2%. But among people over 80, this figure is almost 15%.

Is it true that women and children are less likely to get coronavirus?

There are two ways to interpret the results of the study: either the groups are less likely to become infected, or their organs can better cope with the virus.

“Usually, when new viruses appear, everyone gets infected - this is an important point,” says Dr. Bharat Pankhaniya from the University of Exeter.

This is because to a virus that no one has previously encountered, no one has immunity.

Although in the early stages of an outbreak, children are less likely to become infected with the virus.

“One of the reasons we don’t have so many cases of coronavirus in children is that from the very outbreak, parents keep their children away from patients,” says Dr. Natalie McDermott of King's College London.

What saves lives?

You may be surprised at the difference between mortality in men and women from coronavirus, but scientists are not. The same situation is observed in the case of a wider range of infections, including influenza.

In part, the reason is that men's health is usually worse than women — due to lifestyle choices. For example, due to smoking.

“Smoking harms the lungs, so smokers are a loser,” says Dr. McDermott.

In China, this can be a particular problem, where it is estimated that 52% of men smoke, compared with only 3% of women.

On the subject: Coronavirus and personal hygiene: 7 habits that are worth adopting from American children

But there are differences in how the immune system of a man and woman reacts to an infection.

“Women and men have different immune responses. Women are more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases. There is strong evidence that women produce antibodies better during influenza vaccination, ”says Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia.

Is there an increased risk for pregnant women?

The official answer is no, but experts have doubts. Pregnancy greatly changes the body, including weakening the immune system. Thanks to this, the woman’s body does not fight the fetus in the womb, but it also makes women more vulnerable to infection. Pregnant women are more likely to die from the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age.

However, the UK government claims that there are no “obvious signs” that pregnant women are more likely to get coronavirus.

“This statement is based on data from only nine pregnant women, so I don’t think you can calm down,” says Professor Hunter. “If it were my wife, I would have made her doubly cautious, washed her hands, etc.”

Can children catch coronavirus, and what are the symptoms?

Yes, they can become infected with coronavirus, among cases of infection there are babies several days old.

Information on the symptoms of Covid-19 in children is very limited, but they appear to be mild - fever, runny nose, and cough.

You might expect that young children will get worse: this is true in the case of flu, when children under 5 years old (and especially children under 2 years old) have a high risk of complications.

Some cases with complications in children were recorded. Those who have other health problems, such as a weakened immune system or severe asthma, are at greater risk.

But in general, the virus in children is mild.

Why is coronavirus a deadly infection?

Coronavirus begins with fever and cough, these are symptoms that many of us experience in winter. But the virus can cause an overreaction of the immune system. One of the most severe symptoms is acute respiratory distress syndrome, caused by widespread pneumonia.

Inflammation is how the body signals that it is time to fight the infection. This is a complex process throughout the body.

“Inflammation is a normal balancing reaction, but if something goes wrong, a person will die. - says Dr. Pankhania. “The virus gives rise to cascading organ inflammation, and highly inflamed organs cannot do what they are supposed to.”

Therefore, the lungs cannot deliver enough oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide from it. This can lead to the fact that the kidneys cease to cleanse the blood and damage the intestinal mucosa.

“The virus triggers such a massive inflammation that the body cannot stand it ... multiple organ failure sets in,” adds Dr. Pankhania.

And if the immune system cannot curb the virus, it will spread over time to every cell in the body and can do even more harm to inflamed organs.

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Why do older people die?

This is the result of a combination of two factors: a weak immune system in the first place and a weaker organism as a whole.

We know that our immune system weakens with age.

“The quality of the antibodies that you produce when you are 70 years old is much worse than when you are 20,” says Professor Hunter.

Scientists suggest that older men may be more prone to widespread inflammation, which can become fatal.

In addition, organs wear out throughout life, and therefore we tolerate the infection worse.

“If you are 95 years old and your kidneys are 60% functioning, and then you load them with something else, they stop functioning at the level necessary for life,” says Dr. McDermott.

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