Gender differences in vulnerability to COVID-19 pandemic

To gain more accurate understanding of gender differences in COVID-19 prevalence, fatality and mortality, and to reported differences between countries, it is important to analyse the data by age and sex and standardise summary indicators for age and sex distribution of the population. In highly developed countries many more women survive to older ages (80 and older) than men, the age groups in which COVID-19 fatality rates are the highest. Therefore, the reported gender imbalance in the number of deaths may strongly underestimate the actual gender disparities in COVID-19 fatality and mortality given the lower number of older men in the population but higher risk of dying from COVID-19 in men.  
We aim to collect and analyse comparable data on reported COVID-19 infections and deaths by age (10-year age groups) and sex for 10-15 European and selected non-European countries and compute standardised indicators of COVID-19 infections and deaths per 1,000 population. 

We will address the following interrelated questions:

  • Are women and men of different ages equally likely to get infected?

  • Once infected, are men across all ages more likely to get hospitalised?

  • Is case fatality rate systematically higher for men across all ages?

  • Is the male/female ratio in COVID-19 mortality in the whole population similar across ages?

  • How much higher is COVID-19 fatality and mortality for men than for women when data for different countries are controlled for the age and sex composition of their population as well as for the age and sex profile of COVID-19 infections?

Finally, based on relevant medical and social sciences literature, we attempt to explain the factors underlying gender disparities in vulnerability to COVID-19.