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UCL COVID-19 gender disparity research expanding to 120 countries

13 July 2020

UCL receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to capture COVID-19 data on gender disparity from over 120 countries

World map printed on a face mask

Data collected since March 2020 on the novel coronavirus has shown consistent evidence of a gendered impact on health outcomes. There is a consistent pattern of higher death rates recorded among men compared to women. This is despite women often being in healthcare worker roles and therefore potentially at a higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19 than men.

Professor Sarah Hawkes (UCL Institute for Global Health) and her team have been building a data library within Global Health 50/50, which is housed at UCL. It is the most comprehensive global tracking programme for COVID-19’s impact by sex and analysed by gender. The data and assessments are revealing gaps in progress towards gender equality and diversity and in organisational attention to the gendered burdens of disease globally.

The research, supported by UCL Consultants (UCLC), part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise, will allow data to be collated from a growing number of countries. The ‘Sex, Gender and COVID-19’ research shows a difference in the effects of the virus on men versus women in a pattern that is repeated in nearly all of the 120 countries reporting data.

Focus on India and Africa

Roger de Montfort, Managing Director for UCL Consultants, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this important contribution to COVID-19 research. The new focus made possible through the support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will include capturing statistics from India through liaising at state level to bring in COVID-19 outcomes. The team will also be working with the African Population and Health Research Centre in Kenya to reach a further 20 African countries.”

Professor Sarah Hawkes said, “We’re delighted and grateful to have this support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which will allow us to broaden the reach of our work and issue recommendations to countries. By early 2021, the Global Health 50/50 initiative plans to issue intervention guidelines.

Our work is key to understanding the impact of this novel coronavirus. Many countries do not report their COVID-19 testing rates, cases or deaths separately for women and men. Many more do not report data by both sex and age or other characteristics. The data, when reported and analysed in this way, can be put to use by national governments and UN agencies, and is crucial in the battle to control this pandemic.”

Further Information

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