The impact of sex and gender in the COVID-19 pandemic
This case study, developed by the European Commission’s H2020 Expert Group to update and expand “Gendered Innovations/ Innovation through Gender”, examines the impact of sex and gender in the current COVID-19 pandemic, looking more particularly at such key issues as sex differences in immune responses, dosing and sex-specific side effects of vaccines and therapeutics, gender-specific risk factors (e.g. for healthcare workers and caregivers), gender-sensitive prevention campaigns, as well as the gender-specific socioeconomic burden of public safety measures. Although infectious diseases can affect everyone, sex and gender can significantly impact immune responses and the course of the disease in the human body. Importantly, the biological impacts of the pandemic intersect with broader social and systemic challenges, such as limited healthcare, and economic and logistic resources. In the case of COVID-19, current worldwide statistics show more men than women dying of acute infection, while women are projected to suffer more than men from the health, economic and social consequences of the pandemic in the long term. Innovative solutions beyond health, such as economic re-entry strategies, product development and AI solutions also need to consider sex and gender.
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