Male vs Female Deaths

Covid-19 discussion, bring your own statistics
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bob sterman
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Male vs Female Deaths

Post by bob sterman » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:08 pm

So this new study is getting some media coverage...

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1112-0

...with some journalists suggesting that it shows that men and women face equal mortality risk from COVID. E.g.

Men and women equally at risk from coronavirus, study finds

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/men- ... -28rnppfjj

The Times article claims "There is almost no difference in the death rates from coronavirus of men and women according to a new study, "

So clearly the journalist didn't read the part of the article where the authors wrote "A limitation of our study is that we did not have data on underlying cause of death."

Putting aside, for a moment, the fact the study did not focus on confirmed COVID-19 deaths - the findings are entirely compatible with all the previous work showing that the COVID-19 Case Fatality Rate is substantially higher (about 50%) for males than females at all ages.

Age-specific mortality rates are higher for males throughout life anyway. So even if the COVID-19 CFR is higher for males - COVID-19 can produce a smaller relative increase in the risk of dying during the next 12 months for males, than for females.

And then of course, the higher male age-specific mortality rates mean there are far fewer males around in the high risk older groups (e.g. > 80 years). So you can end up with more COVID-19 deaths overall in women - even though it's far more risky for an individual male to catch.

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sTeamTraen
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Re: Male vs Female Deaths

Post by sTeamTraen » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:59 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:08 pm
So clearly the journalist didn't read the part of the article where the authors wrote "A limitation of our study is that we did not have data on underlying cause of death."
But those excess deaths had to come from somewhere, and there aren't any obvious other contenders.

They found 106000 excess deaths in men and 100000 in women. Let's say that about two-thirds of those got a COVID diagnosis, which I think is reasonable, and that COVID does indeed kill 50% more men than women (i.e., for every 3 men who die, 2 women do). So you would have two-thirds of 206000 = 138000 COVID deaths, of which 83000 men and 45000 women. Hence, you would need to explain why things other than COVID caused 68000 excess deaths divided into 23000 men and 55000 women.

On the other hand, if you assume that all the excess deaths are due to COVID, you only have to explain why the men who died were more likely to have a COVID-19 diagnosis, which I think is plausible. For a start, a bigger proportion of those who died either alone at home, or in nursing homes, and never got a test, will have been women because, as you point out, in the vulnerable over-80 population, there are just a lot more women.

The middle panel of Figure 5 (men v women in the under-65 population) suggests --- albeit with a small number of points --- that there may be some increased risk for men, but it doesn't look like 50% to me.
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bob sterman
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Re: Male vs Female Deaths

Post by bob sterman » Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:05 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:59 pm
The middle panel of Figure 5 (men v women in the under-65 population) suggests --- albeit with a small number of points --- that there may be some increased risk for men, but it doesn't look like 50% to me.
Oh - yes - I was getting the 50% as a ballpark figure from previous studies I've seen looking at the sex difference in IFR/CFR in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Even if all the excess deaths are directly from COVID - I think you can still get roughly equivalent excess mortality (in terms of absolute numbers) for males and females in an age band when the IFR/CFR is higher for males than females (due to the existing sex ratio in that age band - and higher all-cause mortality for males before COVID is considered).
Last edited by bob sterman on Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Gfamily
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Re: Male vs Female Deaths

Post by Gfamily » Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:19 pm

Good graphs for showing that Sweden didn't "get away with not having a lockdown" - certainly not when compared to Norway for example
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jimbob
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Re: Male vs Female Deaths

Post by jimbob » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:25 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:59 pm
bob sterman wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:08 pm
So clearly the journalist didn't read the part of the article where the authors wrote "A limitation of our study is that we did not have data on underlying cause of death."
But those excess deaths had to come from somewhere, and there aren't any obvious other contenders.

They found 106000 excess deaths in men and 100000 in women. Let's say that about two-thirds of those got a COVID diagnosis, which I think is reasonable, and that COVID does indeed kill 50% more men than women (i.e., for every 3 men who die, 2 women do). So you would have two-thirds of 206000 = 138000 COVID deaths, of which 83000 men and 45000 women. Hence, you would need to explain why things other than COVID caused 68000 excess deaths divided into 23000 men and 55000 women.

On the other hand, if you assume that all the excess deaths are due to COVID, you only have to explain why the men who died were more likely to have a COVID-19 diagnosis, which I think is plausible. For a start, a bigger proportion of those who died either alone at home, or in nursing homes, and never got a test, will have been women because, as you point out, in the vulnerable over-80 population, there are just a lot more women.

The middle panel of Figure 5 (men v women in the under-65 population) suggests --- albeit with a small number of points --- that there may be some increased risk for men, but it doesn't look like 50% to me.
And even excess deaths is probably undercounting.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/statementsa ... dmorbidity
Between March 2020 and March 2021, the wider impacts of social distancing measures are estimated to reduce mortality, resulting in 7,000 fewer deaths than expected; the main cause of this change is less air pollution early in the outbreak, though the results of that improvement to air quality are expected to actually occur over the longer term.
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