Racial and Gender-Based Differences in COVID-19

Front Public Health. 2020 Jul 28;8:418. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00418. eCollection 2020.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a global health crisis since its first appearance in Wuhan, China. Current epidemiological studies suggest that COVID-19 affects older patients with multiple comorbidities, such as hypertension, obesity, and chronic lung diseases. The differences in the incidence and severity of COVID-19 are likely to be multifaceted, depending on various biological, social, and economical factors. Specifically, the socioeconomic differences and psychological impact of COVID-19 affecting males and females are essential in pandemic mitigation and preparedness. Previous clinical studies have shown that females are less susceptible to acquire viral infections and reduced cytokine production. Female patients have a higher macrophage and neutrophil activity as well as antibody production and response. Furthermore, in-vivo studies of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) showed higher expression in the kidneys of male than female patients, which may explain the differences in susceptibility and progression of COVID-19 between male and female patients. However, it remains unknown whether the expression of ACE2 differs in the lungs of male or female patients. Disparities in healthcare access and socioeconomic status between ethnic groups may influence COVID-19 rates. Ethnic groups often have higher levels of medical comorbidities and lower socioeconomic status, which may increase their risk of contracting COVID-19 through weak cell-mediated immunity. In this article, we examine the current literature on the gender and racial differences among COVID-19 patients and further examine the possible biological mechanisms underlying these differences.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; gender; pandemic; race; sex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / ethnology*
  • China
  • Comorbidity
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racial Groups*
  • Sex Factors*
  • Social Class


  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2