Scientists recruiting for study on COVID-19 vaccine and male fertility

Coronavirus

FILE – In this July 27, 2020, file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, N.Y. The U.S. is poised to give the green light as early as Friday, Dec. 18, to a second COVID-19 vaccine, a critical new weapon against the surging coronavirus. Doses of the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health will give a much-needed boost to supplies as the biggest vaccination effort in the nation’s history continues. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — The scientists who discovered that the coronavirus can infect the male reproductive system are now studying the potential impact the vaccine may have on male fertility.

Led by Dr. Ranjith Ramsamy, researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine published their initial findings in November on the impacts of COVID-19 and male fertility. The found that COVID-19 can invade testis tissue, even when a man isn’t showing symptoms of the disease.

During their research, the scientists looked at testis tissue from six men who died of COVID-19. They found that three of those men had impaired sperm function. One of those three men also showed evidence of COVID-19 in his tissue. The scientists also looked at a sample from a living man, who’d previously had COVID-19. They found evidence of the virus in his testes, even though he was testing negative for COVID-19 and was asymptomatic, according to the study.

Those researchers are still working to determine how the virus may impact semen and male fertility, and whether COVID-19 could be sexually transmitted.

Now, Ramsamy and his team are looking for men who want to participate in their research to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine will have an impact on sperm. Their initial hypothesis is that the vaccine will not impact male fertility, and they are hoping that the data they collect through their research will confirm that.

“It is very important that everyone in America and around the world receive the vaccine for COVID-19. We are hoping and think this study will help confirm the vaccine’s safety in terms of male fertility,” said Dr. Daniel Nassau, a urology fellow at the Miller School.

The scientists are searching for men, aged 18 to 50, who would be willing to conduct a fertility evaluation prior to getting a COVID-19 vaccine. They expect to have preliminary data available in the spring of 2021.

“We are going to evaluate sperm production and sperm quality for men who are thinking about fertility either at present or in the future and will receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Nassau said. “We want to see if there is any decrease in sperm production or quality. We will look at a semen sample before they get the vaccine, and then at three and six months thereafter.”

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