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A Population-Level Analysis of the Protective Effects of Androgen Deprivation Therapy Against COVID-19 Disease Incidence and Severity



The incidence and severity of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is substantially higher in men. Sex hormones may be a potential mechanism for differences in COVID-19 outcome in men and women. We hypothesized that men treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) have lower incidence and severity of COVID-19.


We conducted an observational study of male Veterans treated in the Veterans Health Administration from February 15th to July 15th, 2020. We developed a propensity score model to predict the likelihood to undergo Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing. We performed multivariable logistic regression modeling adjusted with inverse probability weighting to examine the relationship between ADT and COVID-19 incidence. We conducted logistic regression analysis among COVID-19 patients to test the association between ADT and COVID-19 severity.


We identified a large cohort of 246,087 VA male patients who had been tested for SARS-CoV-2, of whom 3,057 men were exposed to ADT, and 36,096 men with cancer without ADT. Of these, 295 ADT patients and 2,427 cancer patients not on ADT had severe COVID-19 illness. In the primary, propensity-weighted comparison of ADT patients to cancer patients not on ADT, ADT was associated with decreased likelihood of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (adjusted OR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.81-0.95]; p = 0.001). Furthermore, ADT was associated with fewer severe COVID-19 outcomes (OR 0.72 [95% CI 0.53-0.96]; p = 0.03).


ADT is associated with reduced incidence and severity of COVID-19 amongst male Veterans. Testosterone and androgen receptor signaling may confer increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and contribute to severe COVID-19 pathophysiology in men.

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