According to all the data gathered all around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic affects men more than women.
Defined as a biological category, women are just as likely to be infected by the novel Corona virus as men, but they are less likely to die from the disease, or to need intensive care to survive it.
As Dr. Sharon Moalem explains in a recent interview with the BBC, the female immune system is more aggressive against the virus because women have two X chromosomes.
“Every genetic female is made up of two populations of cells that behave completely different,” he says, “and the reason for this is each population uses one X over the other … and they interact and cooperate.”
Whereas the X chromosome is known as “the troublemaker chromosome” in men because they have only one copy, female immune systems have “1,000 more genes than a male” thanks to this redundancy.
As always in nature, there are trade-offs. The extra genetic material means that women suffer a far higher rate of autoimmunity diseases such as lupus, for example. Nevertheless, stronger immune systems may help explain why women live longer than men.
The specific mechanism that gives women a stronger immune response to COVID-19 is called “toll-like receptor 7,” or TLR7. Because women produce more of this molecule in their cells, their immune systems are better at recognizing the virus, and their lungs are less likely to produce the “cytokine storms” that seem to cause most of the deaths due to the disease.
Corona virus is hardly the first example of a respiratory virus that affects men more than women. The 2012 MERS epidemic, also caused by a different Corona virus, claimed almost twice as many male victims as female, and for similar reasons.
Yet according to the reigning gender orthodoxy, those pesky bits of biochemical sex difference supposedly don’t matter at all, so they might as well not even exist, and we should immediately stop talking about them at all, forever, to salve the tender feelings of trans people.
Naysayers have pointed to alternative theories. As explained in this Daily Mail article, some observers think that men are less likely to wash their hands — a difference in gendered behavior — or point to comorbid problems such as upper-body obesity, another difference of biological sex.
Chromosomes, not gender identity, confer a distinct advantage for survival against respiratory pathogens in general, and this virus in particular, on women. Who knew that germs could be transphobic?
If a gender falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, is it still valid?