EXPLAINER: Do men fare worse with COVID-19?

Death and infection tolls from the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world point to men being more likely than women to contract the disease - and to suffer severe or critical complications if they do.

So are men really more susceptible to it?

Insights from research and experts suggest: yes.

A study of over 127,700 cases in Italy showed: 52.9% were men – only just over half.

But among Italy's first 14,860 deaths, 68% were men.

And a Chinese report found that there was a 1.1% higher COVID-19 fatality rate in men compared to women.

But why?

Health specialists point to a number of possible behavioral and biological risk factors.

They say men, in general, don't look after their bodies as well as women do, with lower levels of handwashing and hygiene, more alcohol use, higher levels of obesity, and higher levels of smoking.

Research also shows that women typically have a more aggressive immune system than men, boosting their body’s response to everything from vaccines and infections to autoimmune disease - and now COVID-19.