Risk of infection and mortality rates for COVID-19 differ between men and women. Numerous epidemiological studies show that Chinese, Italian and American women are less prone to illness from COVID-19 and develop less serious forms of the illness.
But what makes females more ‘resistant’ to the virus? There are several factors that favour women, including a different immune response, behavioural factors and different hormone production. It is precisely based on the role of sex hormones and their immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties that two independent groups of American researchers have developed two clinical trials to explain the differing impact of COVID-19 infection on female and male subjects.
According to the New York Times, at Stony Brook University in Long Island New York, doctors have begun treating COVID-19 patients with oestrogen, while at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, they are using progesterone. Researchers are pinning their hopes on this latter hormone in particular, as some studies have shown that progesterone is able to reduce pro-inflammatory immune cells in favour of those that fight the inflammatory process.
The researchers' hypothesis is therefore that progesterone could prevent or limit the excessive response in the immune system, reducing the risk of respiratory distress syndrome.
Giuseppe Roberto Mautone, Head of R&D Scientific Affairs, reports that ‘IBSA, as a leader in the production of subcutaneous progesterone for infertility treatment, has decided to support the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In a very short period of time, authorisation has been obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to participate in the research by providing the hormone needed for the clinical trial, which involves 40 people, 20 treated with the drug and 20 who constitute the control group’.
‘IBSA is always at the side of researchers and university doctors and will not fail to support those who are on the front line in defeating the virus’, Mautone assures.