Dr Jerrol Thompson an infectious disease specialist
Features
September 10, 2021
COVID-19 FERTILITY & STERILITY what you need to know, especially men…

by Dr. Jerrol Thompson

EARLY IN the Covid-19 Pandemic, a dozen myths and beliefs floated around social media ranging from tracking chips, mark of beast, Bill Gate’s plot and vaccines developed too quickly -to suspicions they altered DNA, promoted cancer and damaged internal organs.

By December 2020 when the first vaccine studies were completed and Pfizer’s vaccine obtained Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), many of these myths were already cemented or baked into some minds. Educational efforts have now relegated many of these myths to obscurity; however, there was a more muted and whispered anxiety which was fueling hesitancy. This was the belief that the virus or vaccines had an impact on the very private and personal issue of fertility & sterility, both hardly ever fully or openly discussed. In December 2020 just after Pfizer’s launch, Michael Yeardon PhD, a former Vice President in Pfizer’s Allergy Division who parted with Pfizer in 2011, made several outrageous claims. (a) The virus which causes SARS-CoV-2, is not new but the same as previous coronaviruses; (b) the majority of people already had immunity to Covid-19 before SARSCoV- 2 ever started; (c) Covid-19 variants are not a bigger threat to people than other strains of the virus; (d) Covid-19 is overplayed because it only affects older people; (e) it is not transmitted by asymptomatic persons; (f) Closing borders to stop importing Covid-19 is a ‘pointless’ measure. All these egregious claims were false and debunked but left many confused.

However, his most profound claim that the virus’s spike protein looked similar to a syncytin-1 protein present in women’s placenta and the antibodies against the spike protein would also attack the placenta causing mass sterilization, was shocking. This news spread widely on social media and although scientist dismissed his claims as a grudge and that natural infection by the virus would also generate these same antibodies which could also attack the placenta; Yeardon launched a petition to Europe’s medicines regulator but subsequently stated, he only wanted Pfizer to make sure. Numerous studies, including a recent Scientific America review, have since shown there is absolutely no similarity between the spike protein and the placenta what-so-ever. Unfortunately, this has left many women scared, unsure and caught by the claim.

In the USA over 90,000 pregnant women have been safely vaccinated.

As of September 1 2021, there were 216,867,420 Covid-19 virus cases globally, 4,507,837 deaths (a huge 2.1% Death Rate) and 5.01 Billion vaccine doses given so far. 50.9% of cases were male and 49.1% female, but 60% of these females were of child bearing age. While most vaccines are undergoing studies on pregnant women and children 5-12, it is now over 14 months since the start of vaccine studies and 9 months since AstraZeneca and Pfizer were first given to the elderly & health care workers under EUA in December 2020 (Pfizer now has full approval). During these months millions of vaccinated women have become pregnant by choice or chance and according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the vaccines have not caused an increased risk of infertility in first or second trimester, stillbirths or congenital anomalies.

CDC also stated “there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine”. However the impact of the COVID-19 virus itself is quite devastating on human fertility especially for males.

  • Women infected with any viral illness in first 12 weeks can experience spontaneous abortions. It is well know that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly (baby with a small head).
  • Risk of Very Preterm Birth (VPB), which occurs at less than 32 weeks of gestation, was 60% higher for women infected with COVID-19 at some point in their pregnancy, while the risk of giving birth at less than 37 weeks (all preterm births) (APB) was 40% higher in those infected according to a UC San Francisco study.
  • In Men: a Lancet- E-Clinical October 2020 publication of autopsies conducted on men who died of Covid-19, autopsied testicular and epididymal specimens showed the presence of swelling (interstitial edema, congestion) and red blood cell exudation in testes.
  • Semen from recovering COVID-19 inpatients showed 39.1% had oligozoospermia (low sperm count). 60.9% showed a significant increase in White Blood Cells in semen. Decreased sperm concentration, and increased seminal levels of markers IL-6, TNF-?, and MCP-1 than normal.
  • Additionally, painful testicular Autoimmune Orchitis occurred in some COVID-19 patients.

Mechanisms through which infectious diseases affect sperm are divided into two categories. One involves viruses entering the testes, where they attack spermatogonia, or cells that develop into sperm. The other involves high fever exposing testes to heat, killing the sperm.

A rise of only 2 or 3 degrees in body temperature is enough to kill sperm.

Mumps virus and the Zika virus of 2016 were notorious for infecting and attacking testicular cells and now Covid-19 similarly. Excessive immune response and inflammation in blood vessels can also lead to Erectile Dysfunction. The virus damages capillary vessels in the testes that results in testicular inflammation, serious pain in, and swelling of, the testes. While annihilation of sperm due to heat (fever) is only a transitory phenomenon, destruction of spermatogonia by a virus is seldom repairable and therefore lead to serious consequences for men. On the other hand, vaccines have had no negative impact on either men or women’s fertility.