KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Researchers at Shangqiu municipal hospital in China conducted a study of 38 men hospitalised with Covid-19 and found that six (16 percent) had the coronavirus in their semen.
Though this raises the prospect of sexual transmission, it is still unclear what are the implications of the findings. The majority of individuals infected with Sars-CoV-2 are getting it through respiratory transmission.
The January study which was shared through a research letter in JAMA Network Open, involved male patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, who were 15 to 50 years of age, with 6 to 16 days since onset of symptoms. 23 had recovered and 15 were at the acute stage of infection.
“If it could be proved that Sars-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually … might be a critical part of the prevention,” the researchers said, “especially considering the fact that Sars-CoV-2 was detected in the semen of recovering patients.”
The lack of detailed information about viral shedding, and concentration in semen were cited as potential limitations.
Whether or not, Covid-19 should be considered an STD is still too premature to conclude.
A professor of andrology at United Kingdom’s Sheffield University, Allan Pacey, told the Guardian that the findings should not be treated as conclusive. He indicated that the presence of the coronavirus in sperm did not show whether it is active and capable of causing infection.
“However, we should not be surprised if the virus which causes Covid-19 is found in the semen of some men, since this has been shown with many other viruses such as Ebola and Zika.”