Better COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit survival in females, independent of age, disease severity, comorbidities, and treatment

D.A.M. Meijs*, B.C.T. van Bussel, B. Stessel, J. Mehagnoul-Schipper, A. Hana, C.I.E. Scheeren, S.A.E. Peters, W.N.K.A. van Mook, I.C.C. van der Horst, G. Marx, D. Mesotten, C. Ghossein-Doha, CoDaP Investigators, N.F.L. Heijnen, A. Raafs, S.M.J. van Kuijk, L.J.M. Smits, E.B.N.J. Janssen, M.M.G. Mulder, M. KoelmannJ.L.M. Bels, M.C.D.M. Florack

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although male Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) patients have higher Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission rates and a worse disease course, a comprehensive analysis of female and male ICU survival and underlying factors such as comorbidities, risk factors, and/or anti-infection/inflammatory therapy administration is currently lacking. Therefore, we investigated the association between sex and ICU survival, adjusting for these and other variables. In this multicenter observational cohort study, all patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia admitted to seven ICUs in one region across Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany, and requiring vital organ support during the first pandemic wave were included. With a random intercept for a center, mixed-effects logistic regression was used to investigate the association between sex and ICU survival. Models were adjusted for age, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score, comorbidities, and anti-infection/inflammatory therapy. Interaction terms were added to investigate effect modifications by sex with country and sex with obesity. A total of 551 patients (29% were females) were included. Mean age was 65.4 +/- 11.2 years. Females were more often obese and smoked less frequently than males (p-value 0.001 and 0.042, respectively). APACHE II scores of females and males were comparable. Overall, ICU mortality was 12% lower in females than males (27% vs 39% respectively, p-value < 0.01) with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.62 (95%CI 0.39-0.96, p-value 0.032) after adjustment for age and APACHE II score, 0.63 (95%CI 0.40-0.99, p-value 0.044) after additional adjustment for comorbidities, and 0.63 (95%CI 0.39-0.99, p-value 0.047) after adjustment for anti-infection/inflammatory therapy. No effect modifications by sex with country and sex with obesity were found (p-values for interaction > 0.23 and 0.84, respectively). ICU survival in female SARS-CoV-2 patients was higher than in male patients, independent of age, disease severity, smoking, obesity, comorbidities, anti-infection/inflammatory therapy, and country. Sex-specific biological mechanisms may play a role, emphasizing the need to address diversity, such as more sex-specific prediction, prognostic, and therapeutic approach strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number734
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2022


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