The Impact of Sex and Gender on COVID 19

Speaker: Colleen Norris, Louise Pilote

Among the many unknowns regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the way in which sex and gender affect the risk of acquiring the virus, illness presentation, disease management and outcomes. Sex, a biological attribute, and gender, a social construct, may both influence an individual’s susceptibility, vulnerability and exposure to infectious disease. Evidence related to COVID‑19 appears to largely show increased morbidity and mortality among males, however, the prevalence of reported cases and deaths varies between men and women by country, suggesting that social, economic and cultural factors may influence both the acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 and the treatments and outcomes of COVID-19. Moving beyond sex- disaggregated results, gender dimensions must be recognized as intersecting components within the context of other variables such as disability, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and/or geographic location.

Dr. Colleen Norris, is a Professor and Clinician Scientist with the faculties of Nursing, Medicine & Dentistry, and School of Public Health, at the University of Alberta. Dr Norris is the Scientific Director, Cardiovascular Health and Stroke Strategic Clinical Network, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and Chair, of the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance, Health Policy and Services Working Group. Dr. Norris (CO-PI) along with Drs. Louise Pilote and Valeria Raperelli, leads Gender Outcomes INternational Group: to Further Well-being Development (GOING-FWD), a five-country transatlantic multidisciplinary network of investigators, trainees, and patient partners who aim to integrate sex and gender dimensions in applied health research.

Dr. Louise Pilote is a Professor of Medicine at McGill University where she holds a James McGill chair. She led the division of general internal medicine from 2006-2016. As a clinician scientist, Dr. Pilote has directed several research initiatives that led to important new insights into the determinants of premature coronary disease. Her work clarified the role of sex and gender in diagnosis, treatment and outcomes in heart disease. Dr Pilote recently launched the GOING-FWD consortium a data science, personalized medicine project funded by CIHR and the European GENDER-NET+ initiative, where 30 million patients with chronic disease across Canada and Europe will be analyzed using a sex and gender lens to more precisely predict their risk of clinical and patient-relevant outcomes. As a co-principal investigator of the CAN-AIM team, funded by CIHR, Dr Pilote has also harnessed big data to study sex differences in the effectiveness and safety of cardiac drugs and devices.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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