X chromosome is considered to have survival advantage over Y chromosome. Hence, longevity of a female is more than a male at birth. This survival advantage is seen usually in the non- communicable diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Infections were generally assumed to impact everyone equally. However, this COVID epidemic was different; it was a communicable disease which precipitated the complications of several non-communicable diseases. Men got admitted more with COVID infection and men died more across the world. This was clearly seen in the western world. However, India told a different story.

Women and the COVID Epidemic

In India, more men were diagnosed with COVID, more men were admitted with COVID but the mortality rate (number of deaths among the total infected) was more in women. In simple words, 10 females died for every 9 male deaths. There is also a concern that several women deaths may not have been reported too.

What is the cause of this discrepancy? It is probably because of 2 major reasons.

  • We women ignore our health. Women themselves do not want to spend time and resources on their health. They prioritise children’s and male members’ health more. This is often noticed in the urban educated class.
  • Lower social status of women. The family cannot afford to spend time and resources on everyone, and hence the woman’s health takes a backseat.

Most of the rural women even in a developed state like Tamil Nadu (where health is accessible and free in the government sector) do not visit the hospital for their health except for pregnancy care.

Women get vaccinated less. COVID vaccination rates (late December data) at present is 694 women for every 1000 men vaccinated. However, 60 – 70% of the infected population are men and nearly 60-70% of admissions across India were also the male members of the society. The problem statement finally is, women don’t get protected enough, either by vaccination or by early diagnosis and treatment. Hence, they present late into the illness mandating sicker admissions in ICU and consequently higher mortality rate. Add to this, the uncontrolled diabetes and vascular disease epidemic (which most of them are either unaware of or aware but uncontrolled), is another reason mortality is higher among our female population.

This COVID epidemic has barred the social status of women in our community. If we educate and empower women, we can eliminate several health problems across both the genders.

Dr. Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan

Dr. Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan
Senior Consultant, Infectious Diseases
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai


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14-03-2022 06:25:01pm

#1 Vishali Hariharan

This is very true. My mother urges us to visit doctor even for common cold but she doesn't go to doctor even if there is a serious problem.

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