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More Men Are Dying from the Coronavirus than Women in Hardest-Hit Countries

Nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in Italy. Men make up nearly 60 percent of people with confirmed cases of the virus and more than 70 percent of those who have died of covid-19, according to the country’s main public health research agency.

The alarming Italy data have caught the attention of the White House. Ambassador Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned Friday that “from Italy we’re seeing another concerning trend, that the mortality in males seem to be twice in every age group of females. This should alert all of us to continue our vigilance to protect Americans who are in nursing homes.”

On the other end of the spectrum is South Korea, where about 61 percent of confirmed infections have been in women. Though far fewer patients have died, the majority of fatalities — 54 percent —- were again men.

As the pandemic escalates, epidemiologists and public health authorities are scrambling to understand who is most vulnerable and how to protect them. The data from countries such as Italy and South Korea show that the disease can take wildly different paths.

Exactly what makes a group vulnerable — and how to protect them — has experts “mystified,” said Carlos del Rio, chair of the department of global health at Emory University. “This difference in mortality is creating a lot of anxiety,” he added.

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