Are Women More Exposed to the Coronavirus?

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Covid-19 is currently one of the most virulent agents in our time, and the speed with which cases are increasing and the measures to control it have largely prevented us from seeing the details of its epidemiology.

While the media focus on cases and their spread, most platforms reserve their space for the effects on the economy, on diplomatic relations, and on the risk that our health system will not be efficient enough to protect us all.

However, some warn that, in addition to the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, there are certain specific communities that are more at risk.

These include women.

During the outbreak of Covid-19 in China, the Centers for Disease Control reported that there were about 106 men infected for every 100 women, according to Stat News. One month later, the difference increased to about 58 percent in men, but the researchers cautioned that the differences were not so much biological as exposure, and that the determining factor in both genders was the immune condition of each patient.

However, as the virus has traveled to other countries, circumstances have changed.

Pregnant women, for example, can infect their babies immediately because of their proximity to the carrier, but not vertically. Also, as Stat adds, “Pregnant women are more susceptible to respiratory pathogens than non-pregnant women.”

Similarly, worldwide statistics have shown how gender roles can “influence where men and women spend their time, and the infectious agents they come into contact with, as well as the nature of exposure, its frequency and its intensity,” according to a 2007 report by the World Health Organization.

Considering then that “women make up a majority of health care workers, almost 70 percent according to some estimates, and most of them occupy nursing roles on the front lines of efforts to combat and contain outbreaks of disease,” the rate of women at risk worldwide is radically different.

As the New York Times explains, both nurses and care workers in general are more exposed to the virus than other demographics, as are women who mostly occupy the primary roles in the household, “particularly if someone in their family is sick.”

“Economically speaking, outbreaks could have a disproportionately negative impact on women, who make up a large chunk of part-time and informal workers around the world,” the media adds. “Those kinds of jobs are also usually the first to get sliced in periods of economic uncertainty.”

Although the numbers of the coronavirus pandemic are changing every minute, the fact is that the most marginalized communities, i.e. those most often neglected, are those who are not only most at risk but also those who work double to mitigate the effects.