Women are “significantly” more likely to suffer from long Covid than males and will experience substantially different symptoms, finds a study, underscoring a critical need for sex-disaggregated research.
Long Covid is a syndrome in which complications persist more than four weeks after the initial infection of Covid-19, sometimes for many months.
Researchers from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer Health of Women Team, who carried out the analysis of data from around 1.3 million patients, observed females with long Covid are presenting with a variety of symptoms including ear, nose, and throat issues; mood disorders, neurological, skin, gastrointestinal and rheumatological disorders; as well as fatigue.
Male patients, however, were more likely to experience endocrine disorders such as diabetes and kidney disorders.
The odds of females developing long Covid syndrome is 22 per cent higher than males, the researchers noted in the study published in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion.
“Knowledge about fundamental sex differences underpinning the clinical manifestations, disease progression, and health outcomes of Covid-19 is crucial for the identification and rational design of effective therapies and public health interventions that are inclusive of and sensitive to the potential differential treatment needs of both sexes,” the researchers explained.
“Differences in immune system function between females and males could be an important driver of sex differences in long Covid syndrome. Females mount more rapid and robust innate and adaptive immune responses, which can protect them from initial infection and severity. However, this same difference can render females more vulnerable to prolonged autoimmune-related diseases,” they added.
For the study, the team reviewed 640,634 total articles amounting to 1,393,355 unique individuals.
Notably, women may also be at greater risk of exposure to the virus in certain professions, such as nursing and education, the researchers said.
Further, “there may be disparities in access to care based on gender that could affect the natural history of the disease, leading to more complications and sequela.”