CORONAVIRUS could linger in the testicles, meaning the deadly virus could persist longer in men, a study has indicated.
When Covid-19 enters the body it connects with cells expressing the ACE2 protein, or angiotensin converting enzyme 2.
The proteins are found in the lungs, heart and intestines and are also found in large quantities in the testes.
While for women, very small amounts are found in ovarian tissue.
Statistics indicate that the coronavirus is more likely to severely affect men rather than women.
Just in the UK alone, men are dying from the virus at twice the rate of women.
Men have a mortality rate of 1,728.2 per 100,000 while for women the rate is 840.9 per 100,000, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
A pilot study has indicated that while women took four days to clear the infection, men took 50 per cent longer, requiring six days.
Dr Aditi Shastri, an oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and her mother Jayanthi Shastri, a microbiologist at the Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai, carried out the study.
In three families that took part in the study men also took longer than women to recover from coronavirus.
Those taking part in the study were aged from three to 75 years old, with an average age of 37.
The researchers in India tested hospitalised patients and their infected family members every two daysto gauge how speedily they cleared the coronavirus once infected.
The research was released ahead of publication on medical website MedRxiv and has not been peer reviewed.
Some doubt though has already been thrown on the early research.
Virology Professor Ian Jones from the University of Reading said the coronavirus would need to travel in the bloodstream to reach the testes, which he said was “not generally” what the virus does.
He said: “The main site of virus replication is the respiratory tract and to reach other sites the virus should have to travel in the bloodstream.
“This has been reported for the virus but it is not generally what coronaviruses do.
“Men generally do worse than women in immunological outcomes, possibly the result of only one X chromosome, and I think that this imbalance is more likely behind the differences seen. This work is not peer-reviewed.”
As well, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham Jonathan Ball said that another study had found no coronavirus in the semen of sufferers, suggesting it wasn’t an “important reservoir” for coronavirus.
He said: “In a different study, which again was a preprint and so not peer-reviewed, a small number of males had their semen tested for the presence of the coronavirus while they were recovering from the virus.
“There was also a sample of testes from another patient that had unfortunately died.
“None of the samples tested positive for the presence of the virus, suggesting that the male genital tract wasn’t an important reservoir for the virus.”