Journal Article

Sex differences in the mortality rate for coronavirus disease 2019 compared to other causes of death: an analysis of population-wide data from 63 countries

Geldsetzer, P., Mukama, T., Kamel Jawad, N., Riffe, T., Rogers, A., Sudharsanan, N.
European Journal of Epidemiology, 37:8, 797–806 (2022)


Men are more likely than women to die due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). An open question is whether these sex differences reflect men’s generally poorer health and lower life expectancy compared to women of similar ages or if men face a unique COVID-19 disadvantage. Using age-specific data on COVID-19 mortality as well as cause-specific and all-cause mortality for 63 countries, we compared the sex difference in COVID-19 mortality to sex differences in all-cause mortality and mortality from other common causes of death to determine the magnitude of the excess male mortality disadvantage for COVID-19. We found that sex differences in the age-standardized COVID-19 mortality rate were substantially larger than for the age-standardized all-cause mortality rate and mortality rate for most other common causes of death. The excess male mortality disadvantage for COVID-19 was especially large in the oldest age groups. Our findings suggest that the causal pathways that link male sex to a higher mortality from a SARS-CoV-2 infection may be specific to SARS-CoV-2, rather than shared with the pathways responsible for the shorter life expectancy among men or sex differences for other common causes of death. Understanding these causal chains could assist in the development of therapeutics and preventive measures for COVID-19 and, possibly, other coronavirus diseases.

Keywords: Global, causes of death, epidemiology, sex
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.