Kolkata: The male case fatality rate (CFR) in Covid-19 has dropped below the 2% mark in Bengal for the first time in almost nine months since the state reported its first Covid death and a little over four months after the female CFR dipped below this point and has continued to stay that way.
The male CFR recorded on Saturday — 1.9% — is still higher than the female CFR, which is now at 1.3%, and a shade higher that the state’s overall figure at 1.7%, but it’s a milestone moment in the fight against the pandemic. The country’s overall CFR is 1.4%.
“We have set ourselves a target of a sub-1% CFR in Bengal and an infection rate of 5%,” said Sukumar Mukherjee, a senior physician who is part of the state’s Covid expert committee. “With 1.7% CFR in Bengal and an 8% infection rate, we have a long battle ahead.”
Bengal has been showing a skewed male-female CFR. On June 8, the Covid CFR among women was 5.4%, while male CFR was at 4.4%. On July 2, the male-female CFR rates were each 3.5%. Four days later, on July 6, the female CFR slid below the male CFR for the first time. The female CFR on July 6 was 3.3%, while it was 3.4% for males. The slide continued. The female CFR went below the 3% mark on July 13 and slid below 2% on July 31. The male CFR, in contrast, slipped below the 3% mark on July 15 and finally dipped below the 2% mark only this Saturday. The male CFR was 2% for the past 10 days since November 24.
Experts have linked the difference in male-female CFR to increased mobility in men and better hygiene practices among women.
Mukherjee, however, felt that the variance could also be “linked to” hospital admission rates. “We are further examining it,” he told TOI.
A detailed study conducted by the state health department on Covid deaths in Bengal shows that while hypertension, diabetes, cardiac ailments, kidney ailments and COPD have proven to be the most fatal in Covid patients, it has impacted men and women with Covid with varying intensity. Among those who have died with Covid, 30% females had hypertension, while it was 28% in males. In 24.5% Covid deaths among females, the patients had diabetes. Male Covid deaths in which patients had diabetes is 24.2%. Cardiac ailment as a co-morbid condition was found in 10.6% Covid deaths in males and 8.3% among females. Males had reported a higher percentage of kidney ailments (10.2%, against 9.7% in females.) COPD also affected more males (5.5%) than females (3.9%) as the underlying co-morbidity in Covid deaths. For patients with cancer and those on dialysis, Covid had been more fatal in women than men.
Sanjukta Dutta, head, emergency medicine, Fortis Hospital, said: “Pre-menopausal women have a lesser chance of heart attack than men. Smoking is also more in the latter. These factors are linked to more male deaths. But there are some instances in which we are noticing that the deterioration is very rapid in some Covid patients. Cytokine storm is a reason, but the other factors need to be diagnosed properly to bring down the CFR further.”