The testicles may harbour coronavirus and give it a sanctuary from the immune system which allows the infection to persist for longer in males, a study has suggested.
When Covid-19 enters the body it binds with cells expressing the ACE2 protein, or angiotensin converting enzyme 2.
These are found in the lungs, heart and intestines. In men the protein is also found in large quantities in the testes whereas, in women, very small amounts are found in ovarian tissue.
Coronavirus is more likely to severely affect men than women. In the UK alone men are dying from the disease at twice the rate of women, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Men had a mortality rate of 1,728.2 per 100,000, while women had a rate of 840.9 per 100,000.
The study, carried out by researchers in New York and Mumbai, followed 48 men and 20 women living in Mumbai who had been infected by coronavirus.
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While the women in the study took four days to clear the infection men took 50 per cent longer, needing six days.
In three families that took part in the study men also took longer than women to recover from coronavirus.
Participants were aged from three to 75 years old, with an average age of 37.
Dr Aditi Shastri, an oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, carried out the study with her mother Jayanthi Shastri, a microbiologist at the Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai.
Their work was released ahead of publication on medical website MedRxiv. It has not been peer reviewed.
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