Shifting Sex Differences in COVID-19

Pictured above: At the Brigham’s COVID Recovery Center, Ann-Marcia Tukpah, MD, MPH (center), and medical assistants Judy De Leon-Vaz and Fotine Liakopoulos care for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection but have lasting symptoms or treatment complications.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was widely reported that men suffered worse outcomes from infection, with men accounting for as many as 70% of severe COVID cases. Recently, however, scientists have observed that women comprise 60–70% of patients with long COVID, with symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, migraines, and cognitive struggles that linger after recovery from initial COVID-19 infection. 

Causes for this disparity remain unclear, says Bruce Levy, MD, chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. However, Brigham clinicians and researchers are leading the way nationally in delivering personalized care to long COVID patients through the hospital’s COVID Recovery Center, and better understanding the condition with research through the Greater Boston COVID Recovery Cohort.

  “More research is desperately needed, but there are many patients with long COVID who would benefit from care provided at specialized centers like ours,” says Levy.