Yale University researchers, trying to find a biological explanation for the discrepancy, have found that women may trigger a better immune response to the virus.
"We now have clear data suggesting that the immune landscape in COVID-19 patients is considerably different between the sexes and that these differences may underlie heightened disease susceptibility in men,” Professor of Immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki explained.
Researchers collected nasal saliva and blood samples and observed key differences in the immune systems during the early phase of the infection.
Female patients had a more "robust" activation of so-called T-cells, which are white blood cells that detect viruses and eliminated them, even in old age.
On the contrary, the study suggested that poor T-cell response in men led to a worsening of the disease.
Based on these findings, the researchers said a coronavirus vaccine should "elevate T-cell immune response" in male patients, suggesting different approaches based on the patient's sex.
"Researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines should consider separate strategies for women and men so that everyone can benefit,” said Women’s Health Research at Yale Director Carolyn M. Mazure.