COVID19 (coronavirus) MAY have implications on future male fertility

The news is already full of unwarranted tales of impending doom about the coronavirus, now resplendent with its very own sci-fi villain name of COVID19! There is now news that the Chinese are looking into potential future problems for survivors.

There will be lots of survivors

First, let’s reassure ourselves about the survivors: there will be LOTS of them. A case fatality rate (CFR) of 1-2% sounds high but remember a couple of things.

Firstly, only severe infections tend to get diagnosed. Everyone else who is infected wanders around just thinking they’ve got a common cold.  Secondly, if you look at the people who have succumbed, so far, they are mostly the elderly and without meaning to sound callous, it is a fact of life that elderly people have to die of something at some point.

Slow down in rate of infection

The rate of infection is also, if reports are to be believed, slowing down. In China, which is the epicentre of COVID19 infection, the number of remaining confirmed cases has started to slow down. There are now less new patients per day than recovered ones. Phew!

Of course, there is no room for complacency. But it is fairly safe to say that a Spanish Flu type scenario is very unlikely with COVID19.

However, a great many people will be infected before the disease mutates itself. It is not yet out of the danger zone for epidemics, it still needs to become less infectious and less dangerous. The Chinese are keen to make sure they have all aspects of the disease covered.

COVID19 infection may have negative implications for male fertility

With this in mind, researchers at Nanjing Medical University have raised the issue that COVID19 infection may have negative implications for male fertility. They base their warning on the fact that the COVID19 virus binds to ACE2. ACE2 is an important enzyme in the body, with several functions and likely uses it to break into human cells.

But what cells? It turns out that ACE2 is also highly expressed in the kidneys and in the male testes. The connection between COVID19 and kidneys is already established in that some patients have abnormal kidney function and kidney damage. So, the question is whether COVID19 will do similar damage in the testes.

Researchers advise physicians treating patients for COVID19 to pay attention to the risk of testicular lesions in during hospitalization. This should also be reviewed again at follow-up.

Caibin Fan, Kai Li, Yanhong Ding, Wei Lu2 , Jianqing Wang. 2020. ACE2 Expression in kidney and testis may cause kidney and testis damage after 2019-nCoV infection. Please click here for more information.