When Brian Peters and his 80-year-old mother both fell ill with Covid-19 last May, she seemed to face the greater risk.
Lilah Peters’s age and her diabetes were two factors that can amplify the disease. Mr. Peters, who lived with her in Sergeantsville, N.J., was three decades younger, slightly overweight but otherwise in good health, according to his girlfriend, Diana Robertson. Both mother and son were hospitalized at the same time, went on ventilators and died 11 days apart.
“To me he was a very healthy 49-year-old man,” Ms. Robertson said of her boyfriend, a gentle father of two she planned to marry. She caught Covid-19, too, but had mild symptoms. “I thought if he got it, he’ll come out of it. I was so wrong.”
Mr. Peters had an additional risk factor for a bad Covid-19 outcome: He was a man.
In the U.S., federal data show men represent about two-thirds of Covid-19 deaths among middle-aged people, and similar trends have emerged overseas. Scientists say there are a constellation of likely reasons, including health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that men tend to have more often and that can lead to worse Covid-19 outcomes.