COVID-19: a matter of gender?

May gender inequality influence exposure to Coronavirus? According to a recent study carried out by a multidisciplinary research team of experts from around the world, including Valeria Raparelli of the Department of Experimental Medicine, the answer is yes. The results, published on the Canadian Medical Association Journal, highlight the need to develop targeted interventions in different countries to combat the pandemic

It is well known that sex-related biological factors and gender-related psycho-socio-cultural factors, can influence the development of infectious diseases and their prognosis. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be no exception.

A multidisciplinary team of gender medicine experts, epidemiologists, sociologists, computer scientists, biostatisticians, medical doctors and nurses from Canada, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Italy, including Valeria Raparelli of the Department of Experimental Medicine of Sapienza, worked to better understand this association.

By using data from 33 different countries, the researchers investigated the influence of biological sex and gender-related factors on the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 demonstrating how social, cultural and economic norms and models within a country can influence the risk of exposure to the infection and the opportunity to receive diagnostic tests. The paper has been published on the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ),

Gender inequality has been "measured" through a set of indicators, the so-called United Nations Development Project's Gender Inequality Index, to identify those countries where gender inequality is most pronounced. Here, males account for the highest number of confirmed cases of SARS-Cov-2 infection, confirming a close association between gender inequality and the ratio of male/female cases.

"During a pandemic" - says Valeria Raparelli - "this kind of observation is crucial to better plan the future management, to better understand this unprecedented biological and social event and to counteract the pandemic with targeted interventions".

The paper has been developed as part of the activities of the GOING-FWD (Gender Outcomes INternational Group: to FurtherWell being Development) personalised medicine project.



The influence of sex and gender domains on COVID-19 cases and mortality - Christina P. Tadiri, Teresa Gisinger, Alexandra Kautzy-Willer, Karolina Kublickiene, Maria Trinidad Herrero, Valeria Raparelli, Louise Pilote and Colleen M. Norris; for the GOING-FWD Consortium - CMAJ September 08, 2020 192 (36) E1041-E1045; DOI:


Further Information

Valeria Raparelli 
Department of Experimental Medicine

Tuesday, 06 October 2020

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