Lack of consideration of sex and gender in COVID-19 clinical studies

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Sex and gender differences impact the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 mortality. Furthermore, sex differences influence the frequency and severity of pharmacological side effects. A large number of clinical trials to develop new therapeutic approaches and vaccines for COVID-19 are ongoing. We investigated the inclusion of sex and/or gender in COVID-19 studies on, collecting data for the period January 1, 2020 to January 26, 2021. Here, we show that of the 4,420 registered SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 studies, 935 (21.2%) address sex/gender solely in the context of recruitment, 237 (5.4%) plan sex-matched or representative samples or emphasized sex/gender reporting, and only 178 (4%) explicitly report a plan to include sex/gender as an analytical variable. Just eight (17.8%) of the 45 COVID-19 related clinical trials published in scientific journals until December 15, 2020 report sex-disaggregated results or subgroup analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4015
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
E.B. and J.P.A. are supported by a grant from the Aarhus University Research Foundation (no. AUFF-F-2018-7-5).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

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