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The COVID Gender Data Gap: Twitter Takeover Recap

As part of OHT week, which ran the week of May 11th, OHT volunteer Lisa Murphy ran a Twitter Takeover which covered the gender data gap in COVID. We've recapped the discussion and links from #COVIDDataGap

This Twitter Takeover was inspired by the New York Times article Does Covid-19 Hit Women and Men Differently? U.S. Isn’t Keeping Track by Alisha Haridasani Gupta

So why is it important to collect data sex and gender during COVID1-9 ?

There are global reports of an increased disease impact on men, which is a reason in itself to understand this intersection - but this gap in COVID data also has specific consequences for women.

One Italian study showed that women and men who died from COVID-19 had similar numbers of co-morbidities, but the specific co-morbidities differed by sex. This is important to know when designing pathways for clinical care or creating health guidance.

Women have historically been underrepresented in clinical trials for treatments and vaccinations, which has lead to a data shortage on how different treatments work for the female sex, or the side effects they could have. This podcast with Caroline Cariado-Perez discusses the challenge of lack of female representation in clinical trials.

We also need to understand how women are accessing and utilising healthcare if we are to ensure that our public health response is designed for them, and that diverting of resources during the COVID-19 pandemic does not disproportionately impact them. One shocking statistic from Sierra Leone was that during the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak more women died of obstetric complications than the disease itself. We still do not have good data on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women, but time will unfortunately tell.

Personal Protective Equipment has been a key topic and source of debate and concern during the pandemic. Women make up around 70% of the global healthcare workforce - yet PPE is almost exclusively designed for male bodies. One report found that 71% of female healthcare workers are inadequately protected and 57% have reported PPE hampered their work.

These consequences of gaps in COVID-19 data will also impact other minority groups, including black and minority ethnic communities, LGBT+ communities, and individuals with disabilities. This means that women with intersecting identities will be further disadvantaged by a lack of diverse data collection and analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What other impacts will the gap in COVID-19 data have? How do we address these? Who has the power to improve the quality and applicability of this data?
Continue the conversation at #coviddatagap


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