The gender peak effect: Women are most vulnerable to infections during COVID-19 peaks
Refereed Article, 2022
Wu, C., & Qian, Y. (2022). The gender peak effect: Women are most vulnerable to infections during COVID-19 peaks. Frontiers in Public Health, 10.
In this article, we describe a gender peak effect that women's relative share in COVID-19 infections increases when there is a sharp increase in cases, and it reaches the highest level during peak times in each wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. We demonstrate this gender peak effect by analyzing detailed, sex-disaggregated Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) data. The data include 1,045,998 men and women who were confirmed cases of COVID-19 from March 2020 to February 2022. We show that women's relative share in COVID-19 infections always increases and reaches the level exceeding men's share when we see a sharp peak in case number. We further show that women's higher share in care work (e.g., captured by occupation and age variables) largely explains their elevated infections during COVID-19 peaks. Effective public health interventions during infectious disease outbreaks must recognize this potential gender peak effect and take appropriate measures to curb women's health vulnerabilities.