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How Covid-19 has affected men more, figures of both infected cases and deaths show

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Medical staff with a patient of Covid-19 | Imran Nissar | ANI
Medical staff with a patient of Covid-19 (Representational image) | Imran Nissar | ANI


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New Delhi: Nearly three-fourth of all novel coronavirus cases and deaths in India are among men, the Union health ministry informed Monday.

Of the 4,067 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, 76 per cent are in men compared to 24 per cent women, said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare. Given their disproportionate representation in cases, 73 per cent of the 109 deaths in the country due to Covid-19 were also reported in men.

Among the dead, 63 per cent were those over the age of 60 years, 30 per cent in the age group 41-60, and 7 per cent in those less than 40 years of age, Agarwal said at a press briefing.

Over 86 per cent of the dead had co-morbidities – simultaneous presence of two or more health conditions – like diabetes, chronic kidney disease and heart disease. Since elderly are more likely to be suffering from these ailments, they are represented higher in the number of deaths due to Covid-19, Agarwal said.

This is the first time the ministry has revealed the gender profile of the cases and deaths.

Men more affected in India

While more men than women are infected with the novel coronavirus around the world, the former’s share in cases in India is much higher than most other countries.

Germany (men 52 per cent and women 48 per cent), France (47 and 53), Italy (55 and 45) and China (51 and 49) have an almost equal share of case representation in men and women, according to data by Global Health 5050, an evidence-based initiative housed by the University College of London, Centre for Gender and Global Health.


Also read: Covid-19 brings back wartime powers. But Korea and Japan show why they are not needed


Men more likely to die of Covid-19 world over

The World Health Organization’s weekly surveillance report showed that 70 per cent of the deaths in western Europe between 23 and 29 March were in men. Similar figures have been reported from most other countries too.

In South Korea, men account for 40 per cent of cases but 53 per cent of deaths, 52 per cent of cases and 65 per cent deaths in Germany and 55 per cent of cases and 69 per cent of deaths in Italy, according to Global Health 5050.

In India, a number of behavioural and health reasons could increase the exposure and risk for men. For instance, men are more likely to move around and get infected in the process, said Tanmoy Mahapatra, team lead, concurrent measurement and learning unit, Care India, a non-profit that is consulting with the Bihar government on its Covid-19 response.

“More men are smokers than women that impacts the immunity and affects their lung pathways, increasing their risk,” he said, adding that there is also a higher likelihood of men having pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney diseases.

Biological links?

Two Chinese researches show there could also be a strong biological factor behind men’s higher vulnerability to the novel coronavirus.

A study of 1,019 Covid-19 cases in six Chinese cities found that while men and women had the same susceptibility to the virus, the infection in the former was more severe and their likelihood of death higher.

This could be due to differences in the expression of a protein ACE2 — found in organs like lungs, kidney, intenstives — that is linked to regulating blood pressure, suggested the Chinese researchers in the study that hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. ACE2 levels were found to be higher in men and those with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Men and patients with diabetes and pre-existing diseases had higher levels of the protein, the researchers said, adding that further study on this mechanism is required.

Another Chinese study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed, in 331 patients suggested that women’s bodies produced a higher number of antibodies than men in severe and early phase of novel coronavirus infection.

These studies are not yet conclusive, but point to the need for more research on why men and women’s bodies respond differently to Covid-19.


Also read: More than ventilators, India needs thousands of coronavirus contact-tracers


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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