Wednesday 8 April 2020

Marla Ahlgrimm | Does COVID-19 Discriminate?

Marla Ahlgrimm

The novel coronavirus is nothing more than a piece of genetic material, albeit one that’s making a lot of people sick. And, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, it should not necessarily have a greater impact on either sex. But it does.

Marla Ahlgrimm explains that women seem to have a leg up compared to their male counterparts when it comes to COVID-19. In the United States, deaths are overwhelmingly male. Similar statistics have popped up all across the world, and even in Western Europe, which has suffered a staggering number of losses per capita, seven out of 10 deaths are men.

There are many potential reasons for the disparity, says Marla Ahlgrimm. One comes down to basic genetics. Women have two X chromosomes, meaning that, for a host of complex biological functions, their bodies may have a swifter immune response to the virus once introduced into the female body. Another theory is that lifestyle differences between men and women play a significant role in the death toll.

Marla Ahlgrimm
Marla Ahlgrimm explains that women are behaviorally different from men. In China, for instance, about half the male population are regular smokers compared to 5% of women. Because the virus attacks the respiratory system, smokers are simply at a greater risk of complications. Much of the evidence is anecdotal at best, but does serve as a wake-up call, particularly as smoking is concerned. It is quite possible that the virus would have much less of an impact on men if there were fewer men that smoked.

Another way the virus has had an impact on women is in job loss. Historically, says Marla Ahlgrimm, men have experienced far more layoffs than women during times of economic uncertainty. This time, however, there’s been approximately 20% more women finding themselves without a job than men. This is partly attributed to men having the ability to telecommute more often than their female counterparts.

Overall, the novel coronavirus has taken a toll on everyone. But the effects on the sexes are different and only time will tell which gender comes out on top.


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