Doctors in China have warned that the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (nCOVID-19, COVID-19 or COVID) may damage testicles and cause male infertility. A Dr Li Yufeng-led team of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine of Tonji Medical College in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the global pandemic, has filed this report.
The report cautions patients to get themselves tested once they recover from the disease caused by the virus. Tongji Hospital is affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology. It is one of the hospitals the government of China designated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in January, a month after the outbreak.
COVID-19 penetrates cells as spike protein (S protein) combines with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and damages tissues.
The virus damages not only a man’s reproductive capacity but also the lungs, small intestine, kidney, heart while the ACE2 affects the thyroid.
The infected man loses his ability to produce fertile spermatozoa when ACE2 finally reaches the testes and gets concentrated in the spermatogonia, the report said.
As usual, the government of China could not let this damning report stay on air for long. The Wuhan hospital that had put up the information on its website had to pull it down when people began sharing it wildly on social media.
A ray of hope shines as the finding above has not yet been confirmed by the fraternity of biological scientists. The researchers under Dr Li had appealed to patients to get tested for infertility so that scientists could use the data and, if the apprehensions turn true, find a cure.
Theoretically, the damage is very much possible. Stunted sperm production caused by COVID-19 and synthesis of androgen lead to male infertility. The secondary sexual characteristics and sexual function would fade once the process sets in.