Men have more of an enzyme that the novel coronavirus uses to infect healthy cells, a recent study revealed Monday.

According to the study published in the European Heart Journal, the coronavirus uses molecules known as angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to infect cells and replicate itself, with more of this enzyme found in men’s blood than women’s.

This, scientists say, might explain why more men are suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak than women.

Earlier studies have shown that ACE2, which is found in lung cells as well as in the heart and kidneys, is the entry point where the coronavirus infiltrate human cells.

Researchers analyzed ACE2 concentrations in blood samples taken from two groups of heart failure patients from 11 European countries.

The study also found that heart failure patients taking drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), did not have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood.

After originating in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has killed around 283,400 people worldwide, with more than 4.13 million infections, while recoveries exceed 1.42 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Most countries saw higher fatality rates from the virus among men than among women.

According to the research group Global Health 50/50, which compiles official data from more than 30 countries, men are 50% more likely to die of the coronavirus than women.

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