Looks like women have a stronger chance of surviving COVID-19 than men. Well, at least according to the latest study conducted by Kings College, London in May/June. The study found that oestrogen plays a very important role in protecting women from the coronavirus. Scientists have also established that the women who are taking oral contraceptive pills are 13 per cent less likely to develop serious COVID symptoms. However, post-menopausal women, on the contrary, have a 22 per cent higher risk compared to pre-menopausal women.
Men and women have different immune systems, and the female anatomy protects women against a few deadly viruses. Let’s try to understand this in detail.
Due to different immune systems, women and men respond differently to every disease. Researchers say that the female sex hormone, oestrogen, plays a very important role in protecting women against viruses that cause diseases like COVID-19. It is important to note that men also produce oestrogen, but it is not a dominating hormone in their body.
The studies conducted during SARS, a disease virus closely related to COVID-19, showed that female mice suffered the severe effects of the disease after they removed oestrogen from their body.
Furthermore, research in Wuhan right after the virus spread showed that only women with low oestrogen levels had a more severe case of COVID-19 as opposed to those with higher levels.
Post-menopause is the time when the levels of oestrogen drops. This increases the risk of getting a more severe case of COVID-19 infection. Simply put, menopause may affect a woman’s immunity to fight COVID-19.
Oestrogen gets into every cell of the body and has positive effects on each one of them. It also affects the number of immune cells that are produced in a human body and makes a person less prone to catch the infection. In technical terms, if the cells in our immune system don’t respond to a pathogen, they produce a chemical known as the Cytokines. These chemicals are good, as they kill the virus. However, if this chemical is produced in a large quantity, they are most likely to damage the tissues. Oestrogen regulates these chemicals and ensures that the immune cells respond proportionately, preventing overreactions to viruses like COVID-19.
The two main hormones that are present in most types of birth control pills are oestrogen and progestin (a synthetic version of progesterone, a female sex hormone). If you’re consuming this pill on a regular basis, it is most likely that your body is producing a lot of oestrogen, which in turn will make your body immune to this virus.
But whether you’re on the pill or not, we hope you’re taking adequate measures to protect yourself against COVID-19. Remember, prevention is better than cure–so stay indoors as much as you can, wear a mask and practice social distancing. The pandemic is far from over.
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