The Covid-19 pandemic shows all too clearly the importance of data. Knowing that men and older people are more likely to die and that certain ethnic groups are also more at risk is worrying but vital information. Without accurate data, we are flying blind. In England and Wales, men are around twice as likely as women to die from the disease. But do fears about wading into the gender debate mean that crucial statistics are not being collected properly?
Despite the fact that it is more obvious than ever that sex matters, both government and researchers are failing to collect proper data on sex. A recent academic survey on coronavirus and health illustrates the current confusion about sex. Instead of asking respondents whether they are male or female, it gives six response categories, including ‘gender fluid and non-binary’.