Background: Epidemiological differences between men and women have been reported with regards to sepsis, influenza and severe coronavirus infections including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
Aim: To systematically review the literature relating to men versus women on SARS-CoV-2 in order to seek differences in disease characteristics (e.g. infectivity, severity) and outcomes (e.g. mortality).
Methods: We searched 3 electronic databases up or observational studies reporting differences between men and women in the SARS-CoV-2 disease characteristics stated. We identified and included 47 studies, reporting data for 21,454 patients mainly from China.
Results: The unadjusted mortality rates of men were higher than those of women, with a mortality OR 0.51 [0.42, 0.61] (p<0.001) for women. The proportion of men presenting with severe disease and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) was also higher than that of women (OR 0.75 [0.60-0.93] p<0.001 and OR 0.45 [0.40-0.52] p<0.001 respectively). Adjusted analyses could not be conducted due to lack of data.
Conclusion: COVID-19 may be associated with worse outcomes in males than in females. However, until more detailed data are provided in further studies enabling adjusted analysis, this remains an unproven assumption.