Kenya: COVID-19 - Why More Men Are Infected With Virus

Men still dominate the numbers of those most affected by Covid-19 as Kenya crossed the 10,000 mark with 379 new cases reported yesterday.

In a statement sent to newsrooms, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that men accounted for 253 cases, which is nearly seven in ten people. There are 10,105 cases out of 215,037 tests and majority have been men.

Nairobi (209), Kiambu (49), Busia (38), Migori (19) and Mombasa (16) still account for the largest number of new infections. These counties have a nearly 50-50 women population, which proves there are certain vulnerabilities that make men susceptible to the virus.

According to studies, women generally have a more robust immune response which helps them fight diseases. This could be attributed to genetic factors or sex hormones like oestrogen and testosterone.

CHROMOSOMES

Men and women have the Y and X chromosomes, and females have two copies of the X chromosome. One of the X chromosomes often has an inactive immunity gene but in some cases, it does not undergo inactivation. So women end up with double the immune genes as compared to men.

A study that was published on May 10 European Heart Journal reported that men have higher concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in their blood than women.

In a previous interview, Prof Thumbi Ndung'u, a virologist based in South Africa, explained that ACE2 enables the coronavirus to infect healthy cells. It "receives the Sars-2-CoV first before the virus infects the other cells. This explains why men are more vulnerable than women."

In a study published in 2017 in the Journal of Immunology and research conducted in mice, it was found that activating the oestrogen receptor in female mice provided them with protection against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infections.

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