A new study shows that men could be three times as likely to require hospitalization after being infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The study, published in Nature Communications, looked at more than three million cases of the contagious respiratory illness worldwide and included data from 46 countries and 44 states in the U.S.
Researchers from the University College London and South Africa's University of Cape Town found that while both males and females have an equal chance of being infected, male patients were almost 1.4 times as likely to die from COVID-19.
The analysis additionally found that male patients had "almost three times the odds" of needing to be admitted to an intensive care unit than female patients, CNN reported Wednesday.
Of the more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 observed in the study, about 120,000 were men and 91,000 were women, CNN reported, and of the 12,000 ICU admissions, about 8,000 were men and 4,000 were women.
That men seemed to be dying from COVID-19 more than women was first noticed by health officials back in March.
Dr. Kate Webb, one of the study's authors, said that this is probably largely due to the difference in men's and women's immune systems.
Webb explained that the differences "range from the early immune responses to viral infection, to T cell responses, B cell responses and immune memory," CNN reported.
"There are many potential reasons for these differences in immunity: hormones have immunological effects and women have two X chromosomes compared to one in men," the consultant pediatric rheumatologist said. "X chromosomes are packed full of genes which code for immunity."
Sex has been historically "under-appreciated" in scientific research, Webb added to CNN.
"Including females in basic laboratory research introduces variation that would not exist if only male cell or animal models were used, so they were usually excluded," she said. "Sex based differences are often missed even in the earliest laboratory research."
PEOPLE previously reported that initial data seemed to suggest that men may be more at risk for COVID-19.
In Italy, an early analysis from the Higher Health Institute of Rome of 25,058 cases found that 8 percent of male patients died, compared to 5 percent of female patients, The New York Times reported in March.
And in South Korea, which tested the majority of the country for the virus, 61 percent of confirmed cases were in women. But of the small number of citizens who died from COVID-19, 54 percent were men.
In April, The Washington Post analyzed the split between men and women in deaths in several states.
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