Coronavirus deaths in Estonia slightly higher among women than men

A coronavirus test kit.
A coronavirus test kit. Source: Pixabay

To date, slightly more women in Estonia (36) have died from causes related to COVID-19 coronavirus than men (32), unlike figures reported for several European countries, such as Germany, Italy and the UK.

So far, Estonia has had a total of 68 deaths due to coronavirus and the figures have shown more women than men have died. In contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that 63 percent of deaths related to COVID-19 in Europe have been among men - but in Estonia, less than 50 percent of deaths have been among men.

So why are the figures different in Estonia?

Speaking to ERR News about deaths of men and women from COVID-19, Mari-Anne Härma, head of the Department for Monitoring Communicable Diseases and Epidemic Control at the Health Board, denied Estonia's figures bucked the trend seen in other countries.

She said: "The number of deaths in Estonia are too few to make any conclusive statements.

"One reason could be that the majority of elderly people are women. More women are also in long-term care facilities than men, and it is statistically more probable that more women have died than men [as a result]."

Speaking about why more women could have died than men she said: "Generally men have more underlying health problems, compared with women of the same age. We probably would be seeing a different trend if we had higher numbers of infected and deceased individuals."

Looking at some of Estonia's close neighbors, more women than men have also died in Lithuania. Härma said that the same rationale applied when talking about the two countries and that it is not possible to call it a trend.

"Lithuania also has a low number of infections and deaths within their population. However, for credible conclusions, we have to observe a much larger dataset."

Despite fewer men dying, more men have been treated in intensive care due to COVID-19 than women.

More women tested than men

In Estonia, the proportion of women who have contracted COVID-19 is higher at 55.5 percent than men at 44.5 percent. This is mainly due to more women undergoing testing and, as of Monday morning, 33,936 men had been tested compared to 50,088 women (see the graph below - ed).

A reason why more women have been tested is that there are more women in at-risk groups than men, for example, the over 65s, as women tend to live on average nine years older than men. They are also more likely to live in long-term care facilities, such as care homes.

Ingrid Rooda, project and information management manager at the Health Board told ERR on Monday: "Taking into account all the tests performed so far, including repeat tests, the number of tests is apportioned by gender at 60 per cent women and 40 per cent men.

"This is due to the fact that certain age groups, which belong to the COVID-19 risk groups, have been tested more and contain a higher proportion of women."

As to why more women had been tested than men, Härma said: "The current testing policy allows women and men to be tested equally, and for this they have to seek a general practitioner's consultation. It may be that women are more prone to request help and testing than men, and also more women are in long-term care facilities, than men."

A report published by the Health Board at the end of April analyzed the data for men and women who needed treatment in intensive care. It showed 80 percent of patients who needed to use ventilators were men who had an average age of 59 years old. The women - 20 percent of users - had an average age of 75.

Härma said: "Individuals also end up in intensive care due to their underlying health problems (e.g. heart disease, cancer etc.), and women in that age group are generally in better health compared with men."

As of Monday morning, a total of 84,157 tests have been performed in Estonia. Of these, 12,320 people have been tested more than once, and a total of 11,514 repeat tests have been performed in all cases.


Download the ERR News app for Android and iOS now and never miss an update!

Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: