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The Men’s Health Forum has called on government to monitor the Covid-19 epidemic by gender and age.
The Forum is writing to the CEOs of Public Health England, Public Health Scotland and Public Health Wales and the Chief Medical Officers for the three countries calling on them to collect, analyse and publicly report data around gender and age and to include within their research the question as to why men are more at risk both of catching Covid-19 and of dying from it and what actions this requires.
Following the early results from China, mortality statistics from Italy (via WHO Europe) and Denmark and, based on newspaper reports, the UK suggest that, to date, around 70% of deaths from COVID-19 are male – at a younger average age – despite men being a minority of the older age group most at risk.
The explanation may include biology (men are more susceptible to respiratory diseases) and behaviour (historically, men have smoked more than women and are less likely to seek help or wash hands). Social attitudes including traditional ‘strong and silent’ ideas about masculinity and attitudes to ‘man flu’ may also be stigmatising male help-seeking. Is this the full expanation for such a large disparity? We don't know. There may be other factors around Covid-19 or male compliance with advice or something else entirely.
Men’s Health Forum CEO Martin Tod said:
We don’t have a lot of UK data to go on at present, which is why we’re asking for it to be collected. However, our preliminary analysis of the first 50 or so UK deaths suggests men are disproportionately affected.
It’s clearly vital when collecting data on this dangerous new virus that we understand the differences in how men and women are affected so we can plan appropriately. That’s why we’re calling on government to collect all Covid-19 data by gender and age and make it publicly available.
We already know from work done by GAMH that in the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and the MERS infections between 2017 and 2018, more infected men died than infected women. Both SARS and MERS were corona viruses.
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.
Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.