Could estrogen help save lives from coronavirus?

With more than a million cases of COVID-19 in the United States doctors are finding the virus poses a greater danger of hospitalization, intubation and death for men and some say it may have to do with biological differences.

Dr. Antonios Gasparis professor of surgery at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University says the differences in hospitalization and outcome between patients piqued his curiosity.

“When you look at patients that require a breathing tube or die, 85% of them are men while only 10-15% are women,” said Dr. Gasparis. “Can administration of estrogen in men or even post menopausal women have some type of protective effect in the lungs that would prevent the acute respiratory progression that we see in these patients?”

He enlisted the help Dr. Sharon Nachman and a group of other investigators. Together they developed a study to investigate whether estrogen when given as a patch could help change the outcome in these patients.

The randomized trial will include 100 participants - they're looking for men over the age of 18 and women 55 and older. Doctors here will administer a low dose estrogen patch to half of the participants for one week while the other half will serve as a control group. Since it is a short term treatment doctors say men shouldn’t see any  physiological changes due to the hormones.

“The more we learn the smarter will be about how to prevent the next wave or treat the patients coming in,” Dr. Nachman said.

Researchers have also found pregnant women who as a baseline have much higher levels of estrogen tend to have mild symptoms of COVID-19. They hope to analyze the data from the study in the Fall.


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