Men who have shorter ring fingers are more likely to die from coronavirus, a scientist has claimed.

Professor John Manning, of Swansea University, conducted a study of more than 200,000 people in 41 different countries. He found that male death rates were higher where men traditionally have shorter ring fingers than elsewhere.

He stated that this could be because males tend to grow longer ring fingers when they are exposed to more testosterone in the womb, which can lead to greater levels of a compound called ACE2. He claims large concentrations of ACE2 can ‘oppose the virus’.

England and Wales, where men are more likely to have shorter ring fingers than Australia or New Zealand, made up 56% of deaths, he found.

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Professor Manning concluded in his research that indications of ‘low prenatal testosterone/high prenatal estrogen’ could be associated with ‘high coronavirus case fatality rates and percent male mortality’.

He told The Sun: ‘The theory is that someone with high prenatal testosterone — and a long ring finger — has greater levels of ACE2. These concentrations are large enough to oppose the virus.

‘Our findings may be men with long ring fingers will experience mild symptoms and could return to work.’

epa08443808 A handout photo made available by n10 Downing street shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a digital Covid-19 press conference in n10 Downing street in London, Britain, 25 May 2020. EPA/ANDREW PARSONS / DOWNING STREET / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALESCoronavirus news live: UK death toll at 36,914 and UK to move to phase 2 of lockdown

The impact of testosterone on coronavirus has been a subject of interest since the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier this month medics at London’s Institute for Cancer Research revealed they were studying evidence that testosterone could inadvertently help Covid-19 to infect more cells in the body.

Professor Nick James, of the ICR, said it was ‘biologically plausible’ that testosterone made men more susceptible to the coronavirus. He is now examining data from around 8,000 NHS prostate cancer patients in the trial he runs to see if hormone reduction therapy lessens the impact of the virus.

He said: ‘One of the proteins the virus appears to bind to in lungs is TMPRSS2. It’s a sort of lock and key thing: having bound to this protein, it provides the virus with a route into the cell.

‘You would therefore predict that men on treatments for prostate cancer that reduce their testosterone levels should be protected [from coronavirus] relative to men who are not on such treatments – meaning most men.’

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