Italian fashion house Prada has announced that it is funding the 'Proteggimi [Protect Me]' project of the San Raffaele Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Milan, in order to further support Covid-19 research efforts.
The undisclosed donation will help the hospital research why Covid-19 has a significantly more severe effect on men than it does women, a difference that has yet to be understood by the medical world.
Multiple medical reports have observed this gendered difference around the world: in the United States, twice as many men have died as a result of the virus than women; in South Korea, 54% of reported deaths were men as of late last month; 69% of all coronavirus deaths across Western Europe have been male; and in China, severely ill men were reported to arrive at hospitals at a higher rate than women. While numbers are constantly fluctuating, men represented approximately 70% of coronavirus deaths across Italy at the end of March, according to data from the Italian National Health Service.
While the reason for this pattern remains a mystery, researchers are considering the impact of the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone, as well as the impact of women having one more X chromosome than men, given that the X chromosome contains a high density of immune-related genes.
“It is crucial to be able to examine separate data for men and women if we are to understand whether testosterone levels are linked to the severity of the illness, and to assess any long-term impacts on the overall health of men who have recovered from the virus," said Andrea Salonia, the director of the San Raffaele Urological Research Institute and the coordinator of Proteggimi.
"We hope this research will produce its first results in the next few weeks."
The initiative marks Prada's most recent contribution to the hospital after the fashion house donated two full intensive care and resuscitation units each to San Raffaele, the Sacco Hospital and the Vittore Buzzi Children's Hospital in March.