SWHR Comments on Sex & Gender Considerations in NIH-Wide COVID-19 Strategic Plan

Policy Engagement

Published 12/8/20

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) submitted comments in response to the recently released NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research. SWHR applauds the NIH’s efforts in developing this plan, which will act as a living document to reflect the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

SWHR strongly supports the NIH’s goal to rapidly mobilize diverse stakeholders, including the biomedical research community, industry, and philanthropic organizations, through new programs and existing resources, to lead a swift, coordinated research response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. The five key priorities identified in the plan – improving fundamental knowledge of the disease, advancing detection and diagnosis, advancing treatment, improving prevention, and preventing and redressing poor outcomes in disparity populations – will be critical to achieving NIH’s goal.

SWHR offered specific recommendations to strengthen the plan’s consideration of sex and gender needs in relation to the pandemic and to pandemic response:

  1. Better emphasize the influence of sex and gender across all five key priority areas.
  2. In addressing long-term outcomes of COVID-19, encourage comprehensive research into sex and gender differences as potential factors placing patients at risk of diagnosis as post-COVID-19 “long haulers.”
  3. Address the impact COVID-19 has on routine health care, especially in regards to missed or delayed vaccination and screening or treatment delays for serious illness.
  4. Strengthen emphasis on the specific needs of pregnant and lactating individuals within vaccine and treatment research.
  5. In studying long-term socioeconomic and societal effects of COVID-19, consider the influence of gender on economic status as well as within the biomedical workforce.

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