Sex, gender and COVID-19

Sex, gender and COVID-19: overview and resources

Tracking differences in COVID-19 illness and death among women and men

From the first reports of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, there has been consistent evidence of a gendered impact on health outcomes.

In many settings, women appear to be slightly more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, which may in part be due to the fact that women account for the majority of health care workers around the world. At the same time, there is a consistent pattern of higher death rates recorded among men compared to women. This pattern seems to be repeated in nearly every countries’ reporting, and raises important questions concerning the spread and clinical impact of this pandemic:

  • Are men or women more likely to contract COVID-19?
  • Once infected, are men more likely to die?
  • Do differences in men and women’s risk of dying vary by age? 
  • What factors may be driving this difference in illness and death among men and women? 

As a key resource to answering these questions, the Global Health 50/50 COVID-19 Data Tracker has been reporting national data on cases and death among women and men since March 2020. Many countries do not report their COVID-19 cases and deaths disaggregated by sex (separately for women and men), and many more do not report data disaggregated by both sex and age. There is also limited data available on testing in men and women. 

We collect and collate data reported by national Governments. We only report on cases and deaths when sex-disaggregated data is published by Governments. This means that sex-disaggregated data sometimes lag behind the figures for current infections and deaths and may only represent a portion of the overall confirmed cases or deaths within a country. 

Over the following pages, you can find sex-disaggregated data on confirmed cases, deaths, hospitalisations, ICU admissions, cases and deaths by age and sex and infections among healthcare workers. You can also find further information on why men appear to be dying at a higher rate than women, and some FAQs on COVID-19 data.

Sex and gender intersect with other identities and experiences to shape both the primary and secondary impacts of COVID-19, from race and ethnicity to occupation and socioeconomic status. It is important to note that risk and vulnerability will be shaped by multiple intersecting factors alongside sex and gender.

At this stage in the pandemic, all data must be interpreted with caution. For more information on this, we recommend reading Why We Don’t Know the True Death Rate for Covid-19.

About Global Health 50/50

Global Health 50/50 is housed at University College London. Its flagship report provides the world’s most comprehensive assessment of the global health system today, revealing major gaps, internally, in progress towards gender equality and diversity, and externally, in organisational attention to the gendered burdens of disease around the world.

Resources on gender and secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

The GH5050 data tracker reports on the immediate health impacts of COVID-19 infection. We recognise that there are many other substantial and severe social, economic and structural outcomes associated with COVID-19, and that many of these outcomes will be shaped by gender alongside other social stratifiers and inequalities. We recommend the following resources as a starting place for further information on the gender dimensions of these associated outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gendered impacts across society 

Data on gendered impacts of COVID-19

Comprehensive living database of gender and COVID-19 resources 

COVID-19 and sexual and reproductive health

COVID-19 and gender-based violence 

Gender Equity in the Health workforce 

COVID-19 and the gendered burden of caregiving 

Gender, intersectionality and COVID-19

Racial Data Tracker (US) 

Tracking current global figures on confirmed cases and deaths

You can find data on the current number of cases and deaths in each country on the websites of the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University and Worldometer

GH5050 sex-disaggregated data tracker in the news

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“What’s Really Behind the Gender Gap in Covid-19 Deaths?” New York Times, 24 June Link

“Where The Women Aren’t: On Coronavirus Task Forces” NPR, 24 June Link

“An interview with Sarah Hawkes” Centre for feminist foreign policy, 22 June Link

“Gender and Covid: Counting the Uncounted” Common Thread, 18 June Link

“How female scientists are losing out during the pandemic and why it matters” CNN International, 18 June Link

“The Overlooked Disparity: Coronavirus Kills Mostly Men” Wall Street Journal, 29 May Link

“COVID-19 much more fatal for men, especially taking age into account” Brookings, 15 May Link

“The women fighting Covid-19: Pandemic highlights lack of female representation” France 24, 15 May Link

“Coronavirus in Scotland: How does geography, sex, location, deprivation and age affect Covid-19 deaths?” The Press and Journal, 13 May Link

“Why Are More Men Than Women Dying Of COVID-19?” FiveThirtyEight, 30 April Link

“Researchers Study Why Men Seem To Be More Affected By COVID-19” NPR, 23 April Link

“COVID-19 susceptibility, women, and work”, 23 April Link

Gender and COVID-19″ Interview with Caroline Criado Perez and Sarah Hawkes, ABC News, 21 April Link

“Sex, gender and COVID-19, UK Research and Innovation” UKRI, 17 April, Link

“Coronavirus Killing Men At Twice The Rate Of Women In England And Wales” Huffington Post, 16 April, Link 

“Coronavirus in Scotland: How does geography, gender, location and age affect Covid-19 deaths?” The Press and Journal, 15 April, Link 

“Gender and Covid” New York Times, 14 April, Link

“Why Covid-19 is different for men and women” BBC Future, 13 April, Link

“Why is Covid-19 killing so many more men than women?” The Daily Mail, 11 April, Link

“Coronavirus: ecco perché le donne sono più immuni degli uomini” TPI, 8 April, Link

“Por que o coronavírus está matando mais homens que mulheres?” BBC Brazil, 8 April, Link 

“Perché il virus colpisce di più gli uomini? Ecco tutte le ipotesi” Il Giornale, 8 April, Link 

“Why are more men dying from coronavirus than women?” BBC Outside Source, BBC News, 8 April, link

“World Business Report” BBC World Service (9 minutes onwards), 7 April, link

“Why are men more likely to die of coronavirus than women?” The Times, 7 April, link

“Coronavirus: Why are men twice as likely to die as women?” The Irish Times, 7 April link

“Why does coronavirus seem to be killing more men than women?” Metro, 5 April link

“No Gender Equality: Why COVID-19 Appears to Be Far More Deadly for Men Than Women.” Sputnik News, 4 April link

Does Covid-19 Hit Women and Men Differently? U.S. Isn’t Keeping Track.” The New York Times, 3 April link

“Coronavirus Seems to Be Infecting and Killing More Men Than Women” Wall Street Journal, 2 April, Link

More Men Than Women Have Died Of COVID-19. Why Do They Take It Less Seriously?” Huffington Post, 2 April link

“Why is coronavirus killing more men than women?” Wired, 1 April link

“Coronavirus: Why do more men die of Covid-19 than women?” France24, 31 March link

“Why do more men die than women from coronavirus?” TRT World, 31 March link

“Supermarket stockpiling, A-level results and Covid-19 gender disparity.” BBC Radio 4 (More or Less), 31 March link

“Coronavirus: Why does COVID-19 pose a greater threat to men than women? Sky News, 31 March link

“Men are dying from the coronavirus at higher rates than women around the world. Here are scientists’ best ideas as to why.” Pulse Live Kenya, 30 March link

“The gender question, the novel outbreak.” The China Current with James Chau, 30 March link

“Coronavirus fact check: Are more men than women dying from COVID-19?” Kiro7, 30 March link

“In early stages of pandemic, CT coronavirus data in short supply.” NewsTimes, 27 March link

“Men are much more likely to die from coronavirus – but why?” The Guardian, 26 March link

“Are men more vulnerable to COVID-19?” Times of India, 26 March link

“Why the coronavirus is killing more men than women.” BGR, 25 March link

“Experts explain why COVID-19 appears more fatal in men than women.” News Ghana, 25 March link

“Coronavirus Update: Here’s Why More Men Are Dying From COVID-19.” International Business Times, 25 March link

“Bad diet, drinking and smoking could be why coronavirus more fatal to men than women, researchers say.” New York Daily News, 25 March link

“A quarter of the world’s population in lockdown.” BBC Newshour, 25 March link

“Here’s why the coronavirus may be killing more men than women. The US should take note.” CNN24 March link

“Sex, gender and COVID-19: Disaggregated data and health disparities.” BMJ Global Health, 24 March link

“Sexist and incomplete data hold back the world’s Covid-19 response” Melinda Gates, STAT, 30 July link

“The indirect impact of COVID-19 on women” The Lancet, 1 August link

“Gender blind’ coronavirus policies could hinder disease fight” SciDev, 16 March link

“Misaligned Priorities & Gender Inequalities Formed “Cracks” That Contributed To COVID-19 Pandemic.” Health Policy Watch, 9 March link 

“The consequences of a coronavirus task force made almost entirely of men.” The Lily, 2 March link