As IVF clinics reopen across the world, there is still some trepidation from infertility patients. Patients are concerned about COVID19 and how it might affect their treatment and any resulting pregnancy. To address this, the three major fertility associations covering the US and Europe are collaborating to closely monitor the situation. These are the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), and the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).
In their latest statement they refer to successful COVID19 prevention strategies and the emergence of additional data. Reproduction is a human right, essential for the well-being of society and for sustaining birth rates. Dr. Edgar Mocanu, President-elect of IFFS said, “Infertility is a World Health Organisation recognised disease. It has major physical, psychological, personal, economic and social impact.”
COVID-19 Resource Centre
When the pandemic initially struck IFFS initiated a publicly accessible and free COVID-19 Resource Centre. This collates data on the impact of the disease in order to inform practice. Dr. Mocanu added, “IFFS has joined forces with the ASRM and ESHRE to reaffirm its belief that fertility care is an essential service. Resources should be made available to enhance the understanding of COVID-19 as it pertains to reproduction, pregnancy and the impact on the foetus and neonate.”
The document lays out 10 principles for reproductive medicine care at this time.
- Advocate for the well-being of patients.
- Monitor local conditions, including prevalence of disease, status of government or state regulations and availability of resources.
- Implement proactive risk assessment within their practices.
- Prioritise care and judiciously allocate use of limited resources using medical criteria.
- Counsel patients about all options, including deferring evaluation and treatment.
- Adhere to active risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
- Develop clear and codified plans to ensure the ability to provide care while maximising the safety of their patients and staff.
- Remain informed and stay current regarding new medical findings.
- Develop or refine robust emergency plans.
- Be prepared to interrupt medical treatment if conditions warrant discontinuation.
The report also calls on reproductive medicine practices to continue to gather data and help further COVID-19 research. This is useful now and for future pandemics. The societies are coordinating data gathering with programmes.
- ASRM is coordinating the ASPIRE Assessing the Safety of Pregnancy in the Coronavirus Pandemic Study. This is a US study of pregnant women and their newborns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ESHRE is gathering global case studies and mapping treatment activity during the pandemic.
- IFFS is conducting routine surveys to assess global trends in access to fertility services.
Dr. Cristina Magli, Chair of ESHRE, said, “The statement shows that much remains unknown about COVID-19 infection, especially in reproduction. By setting out areas where research is needed, ASRM, ESHRE and IFFS declare their intention to collaborate in monitoring the effects of the disease on reproductive cells and pregnancy. And to gather data on both maternal and child outcomes.”