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To examine the magnitude of sex differences in survival from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Europe across age groups and regions. We hypothesized that men have a higher mortality than women at any given age but that sex differences will decrease with age as only the healthiest men survive to older ages.
We used population data from the Institut National D’Études Démographiques on cumulative deaths due to COVID-19 from February to June 2020 in 10 European regions: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. For each region, we calculated cumulative mortality rates stratified by age and sex and corresponding relative risks for men vs. women.
The relative risk of dying from COVID-19 was higher for men than for women in almost all age groups in all regions. The overall relative risk ranged from 1.11 (95% confidence interval, CI 1.01–1.23) in Portugal to 1.54 (95% CI 1.49–1.58) in France. In most regions, sex differences increased until the ages of 60–69 years, but decreased thereafter with the smallest sex difference at age 80+ years.
Despite variability in data collection and time coverage among regions, the study showed an overall similar pattern of sex differences in COVID-19 mortality in Europe.