THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite a biological predisposition for better longevity, more women fall victim to Covid mostly due to delay in getting timely treatment. Though it is found that men are more at risk of Covid when compared to women, health experts are of the opinion that lack of timely care leads to an increase in deaths among women.
The situation has worsened with the lack of proper monitoring of patients in home care, which has led to an increase in severity of disease and death toll. It is a significant factor considering that over 90% of the Covid-infected patients undergo home isolation.
To be sure, more men than women died of Covid in the first and second waves. The women fared better on the back of their strong survival nature, as it has been the case of other diseases affecting humans.
But health experts have always raised concerns over the social factors undoing the biological benefits of women in healthcare.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that women and elderly in home quarantine are late to report the severity of illness after being infected. “Women have a tendency to neglect their health. Exposure, severity and immunity are the factors that determine the treatment outcome. However, the late presentation of patients in hospital leads to poor outcomes irrespective of the age and gender,” said Dr Aneesh Raj, a consultant intensivist.
According to him, women are prone to ignore the symptoms and indulge in self-treatment. “They often respond that they thought they would not have Covid. They are reluctant to undergo testing even on the directions of a doctor. Some straightaway start treating themselves with antibiotics, which has no role in Covid,” he said.
Though the health department’s guideline is to conduct an RT-PCR test if a symptomatic person tests negative in a rapid antigen tests, doctors complain that people hesitate to repeat the test. Dr N M Arun, internal medicine specialist and public health activist, said a section of people are hesitant to go to hospitals during the pandemic spread. “There is a gender issue at play in healthcare. Women get less care and they do not care themselves. In the case of elderly, it is often the neglect from family members that leads to poor outcomes,” he said.
Possible factors favouring women
Presence of female sex hormone estrogen
XX sex chromosome in females
Lower risky behaviours such as smoking
Hesitancy to get tested soon after the onset
Poor monitoring of health in home quarantine
Hesitancy to get timely treatment while in home quarantine