The Sex, Gender and COVID-19 Project

Tracking differences in COVID-19 infection, illness and death among women and men and producing the world’s largest analysis of sex and gender in national COVID-19 health policies

The COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker is the world’s largest database of sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19. It is accompanied by the Sex, Gender and COVID-19 Health Policy Portal, the most comprehensive analysis of the integration of sex and gender in national COVID-19 health policies. Together, the tracker and portal provide a rich source of evidence on the equity and effectiveness of national governments pandemic responses, and provide open-access data for policy makers, researchers and advocates across the globe to utilise in pushing for more equitable, gender-responsive pandemic recoveries.

The project is produced by Global Health 50/50, the African Population and Health Research Center and the International Center for Research on Women.

We’re tracking the latest sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 from across the globe.

Understanding the role sex and gender are playing in the covid-19 outbreak is essential to building an effective, equitable response to the pandemic. This tracker presents the sex-disaggregated data being reported by governments. Despite clear gender differences in COVID-19 health outcomes, not all governments are reporting data separately by women and men.

As of 22 March 2021
  • have reported data on cases and deaths in past month
  • have reported either case or death data in past month
  • no sex-disaggregated data reported in past month
  • not yet tracked

Gender and sex are playing a crucial role in determining who is at risk of infection, severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Differences in women’s and men’s bodies due to their sex (biology) is playing a role in people’s risk of illness and death due to COVID-19. To attribute gender differences in COVID-19 outcomes solely to biology however ignores the role that social environments, structures and norms are playing, and obscures the actions that can be taken to address these drivers.

Further, sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data does not report or account for gender identity, therefore data are absent on the impact of COVID-19 on transgender and non-binary people. Some efforts are in place to redress this gap. Without this information, the specific health care needs of people with diverse gender identities cannot be identified, the health disparities they experience cannot be addressed, and important health care services may not be delivered.

Defining Sex and Gender

Sex

Refers to biological characteristics that determine risk and response to disease, for instance driving hormonal responses, immunological characteristics, and response to vaccines.
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Gender

The UN defines gender as what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are context/time-specific and changeable.
Source

The ‘gender binary’ however is increasingly being rejected in many places to recognise, respect and embrace diverse gender identities.
Source

Gender influences exposure to risk (air pollution, smoking, alcohol), likelihood of risk reduction (e.g. seeking health care), as well as who benefits from the resources available (e.g. who can access health services, or who is likely to be providing care). Health outcomes and health systems reflect and reinforce gender biases and restrictive gender norms, compromising the safety and wellbeing of providers and the health of communities. Gender and social inequalities (based on class, race or ethnicity, etc) intersect and multiply these negative effects on both the health system and the communities they serve.
Source

Globally, there’s no clear trend in terms of who is most likely to become infected by COVID-19. However, across the vast majority of countries, a clear pattern in mortality has emerged; men appear more likely than women to die from COVID-19 once infected. This pattern varies by country and may be changing over time.

Why do men appear to be at more risk of severe illness and death?

At the global level, what does the data show?

For every 10 female...
...Tests
Across 16 countries
...there are
8
...there are 8 male Tests

male Tests
...Cases
Across 138 countries
...there are
10
...there are 10 male Cases

male Cases
...Hospitalisations
Across 26 countries
...there are
11
...there are 11 male Hospitalisations

male Hospitalisations
...ICU admissions
Across 18 countries
...there are
18
...there are 18 male ICU admissions

male ICU admissions
...Deaths
Across 108 countries
...there are
13
...there are 13 male Deaths

male Deaths
...Confirmed cases that have died
Across 95 countries
...there are
15
...there are 15 male Confirmed cases that have died

male Confirmed cases that have died
...Vaccinations
Across 29 countries
...there are
8
...there are 8 male Vaccinations

male Vaccinations

Our Health Policy Portal investigates how national governments are responding to this evidence in their COVID-19 health policies

Considering gender and equity in policy responses improves health outcomes for everyone.

The Sex, Gender and COVID-19 Health Policy Portal offers the most comprehensive review of the recognition of and response to sex and gender in national COVID-19 public health policies. Launched in the context of mounting calls for governments to adopt gender-responsive approaches to the pandemic, the Policy Portal finds little evidence that sex and gender have been considered in policies that directly impact people’s health outcomes.

“The Pandemic has finally opened our eyes to the fact that health is not driven just by biology, but by the social environment in which we all find ourselves and gender is a major part of that.”

Professor Sarah Hawkes
Co-Director of GH5050, in conversation with Common Thread

Our data powers research, advocacy and evidence-informed policy making.

Our COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker offers the most comprehensive country-level reporting of sex-disaggregated data. It is used by researchers, media, UN organisations and advocates to inform our global understanding of who is at risk along the pathway of infection through to severe illness and death, as well as to encourage countries to prioritise reporting of sex-disaggregated data as part of their COVID-19 response.

Our COVID-19 Health Policy Portal provides the most comprehensive analysis of national COVID-19 health policies from a gender, equity and human rights lens globally as well as offering a repository of national policies across six key areas. Governments, decision-makers, researchers, advocates and funders are encouraged to explore the Policy Portal’s global index, country profiles and policy area-specific pages to compare policy approaches, promote knowledge sharing and push for gender-responsive policies moving forwards.

Use the data

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. If you use our data, we kindly request that you cite us using:

The COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker
https://globalhealth5050.org/the-sex-gender-and-covid-19-project/

The Sex, Gender and COVID-19 Health Policy Portal
https://globalhealth5050.org/the-sex-gender-and-covid-19-project/policy-portal/

Here are just a few of the organisations and outlets using our Tracker

Why the coronavirus is killing more men than women
The Washington Post - October 17
An interview with Sarah Hawkes
Centre for feminist foreign policy - June 22
Gender and Covid
New York Times - April 14
World Business Report
BBC World Service - April 7
The gender question, the novel outbreak.
The China Current with James Chau - March 30
Are men more vulnerable to COVID-19?
Times of India - March 26

We’re pushing for more countries to collect and publicly report sex-disaggregated data.

We encourage you to join us in pushing policy-makers and health authorities to report sex-disaggregated data and design more gender-responsive COVID-19 approaches.

See our brief on why this data matters

If you think we’ve missed national sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 in our tracker, please let us know at info@globalhealth5050.org.

Got questions?

Get in touch and send media requests to info@globalhealth5050.org

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