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Mobility of men may put them at more risk of infection from virus

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-02 09:58

A man is seen with pelican in St James's Park, London, Britain, May 21, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

New research from the University of Oxford shows men in the United Kingdom have been more mobile than women, both before and during the lockdown, raising questions about whether that may have contributed to the increased incidence of hospitalization and higher mortality rates among men during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to data from the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor, men have traveled further from home since the lockdown began on March 23. During May, men traveled 48 percent further than women.

The findings show both men and women became more active just one week after the lockdown began, after an initial halt in movement.

In every age group, men were more mobile than women. In some cases, men were more mobile than younger women.

The newly launched impact monitor's analysis, based on anonymized, aggregated, and GDPR-compliant location data from mobile phones, provides an in-depth look at life in the UK.

Adam Saunders, who co-leads the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor inter-disciplinary project, said: "To our knowledge, this is the first study which shows differences in population movement, not only between men and women, but also across age groups during the UK's lockdown. It clearly shows that men have tended to travel further from home-potentially coming into contact with the virus with greater frequency."

The research has also shed light on differences in movement by age.

Among revelations about life during the lockdown, the data provided by the project's partner, CKDelta, shows that, men in their mid-20s to early 30s moved the most. By May 15, this group had moved 54 percent further than women of a similar age. Even more striking, men in their 50s moved 28 percent further than the most active women, those aged between 23 and 24. Men in their 60s also moved 39 percent further than women of the same age.

Matthias Qian, co-leader of the project, said: "The extent of differences in movement between men and women offers potential insight into why, in addition to the prevalence of underlying health conditions, men in the UK may have been most at risk from COVID-19. This is highlighted by evidence that many older men have been moving more than women of all age groups."

The research shows that, in line with the government's recommendation that society's most at-risk groups shield themselves from contact, both men and women aged 65-plus have been the least active during the lockdown.

But this group also began to move outside their homes by late March, with the gap between men and women in this age group widening as social distancing has continued. By May 15, pension-aged men moved 30 percent further outside their homes than women in the same age group.

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