A piece in today’s Times:
Scientists think that women’s stronger immune systems make them more dangerous carriers of coronavirus than men because the incubation period is longer, making them more likely to spread the virus while showing either no symptoms or mild symptoms.
The study by scientists and doctors in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit the hardest by Covid-19, suggests that women should be isolated under medical observation for longer than a fortnight, though it does not specify how long.
“Develop isolation and diagnosis programmes for women as early as possible,” urges the study, to be published in the Lancet. “Perhaps this will speed up the end of the epidemic and reduce the cost of controlling it.”
Last month Zhong Nanshan, the country’s top epidemiologist and pulmonologist, said that the incubation period could be as long as 24 days.
In a separate medical journal, Chinese researchers discussed a case in which the incubation period for a 20-year-old female patient was at least 19 days. The woman left Wuhan on January 10 and travelled to Anyang, in Henan province, where she met relatives. After her relatives developed symptoms, the woman was put under medical observation. She showed no symptoms but tested positive for the virus on January 28.
The virus has claimed 3,045 lives and infected more than 80,000 people in China, although the spread appears to have slowed down after Beijing imposed draconian measures to curb people’s movement.
In the latest study, Wuhan researchers examined data from 6,013 confirmed cases and found that more men than women were diagnosed in the early stages of the outbreak but that the percentage of women found to have the virus rose gradually from 34 per cent before January 1 to 45 per cent by January 26.
They found that there were fewer women in the intensive care unit than men with severe symptoms. It is thought that women naturally have stronger antiviral immunity than men.
“It gives a sign that the Covid-19 prefers men, and men suffer more damage after infection,” the report said. “We also found that the proportion of asymptomatic infections was significantly higher in women than in men.”
As more women were diagnosed with the infection as time went on, it “proved that the average latency of women may be longer than men as a whole.”
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