A study published in JAMA Network Open claimed the presence of COVID-19 in the semen of the patient or recovered individuals. And since then this topic became the topic on the desk for scientific society and researchers.
According to experts researchers only tested for viral components and that the findings do not demonstrate infectivity.
“I am not aware of any reports of infection transmitting sexually, so the risk here, even if the study is verified at a larger scale, is very limited,” Ian Jones, PhD, professor of virology, University of Reading, United Kingdom.
Many experts pointed out that the published article is short on information about methodology and context. Authors are not declaring that what method they applied to conclude the above.
I’m not saying they are wrong, but they are shy on details. Although the authors say they used reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect viral RNA from nasal swabs to confirm infection, they don’t say what they did to detect virus in semen, leaving readers to assume they also used RT-PCR to test those samples. Maureen Ferran, PhD, associate professor of biology, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York.
JAMA press office responded to the confusion raised and confirmed that authors did use RT-PCR to detect viral RNA in semen. While authors did not respond to the multiple email requests for comment on the matter.
Commenting on the study, Allan Pacey, PhD, FRCOG, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, acknowledges that this opens up the possibility that one route of infection may be through sexual contact, although this has not been confirmed.
He told Medscape Medical News that although the findings appear robust, they are at odds with a recent study published in Fertility and Sterility that found no evidence of the virus in semen in a similar number of men (n = 34), suggesting a need for more research.
From my own experience … I can confirm that there are a number of methodological challenges to overcome in order to truly establish the source of an infection with virus or bacteria within the male reproductive tract, and moreover that any DNA/RNA represents enough virus or bacteria which are sufficient to cause infection by sexual contact. Allan Pacey, PhD, FRCOG, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
We know the virus is transmitted efficiently through the respiratory route and we have not seen any documented cases of sexual transmission, therefore this may not necessarily represent proof of sexual transmissibility via the male genital tract. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore
Several groups have noted that the testes have high expression of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which the virus uses for cell entry. Study, posted on a preprint server on April 17 but not peer-reviewed, showed that clearance of the virus is delayed in men. The authors, led by Aditi Shastri, MBBS, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, wrote, “High expression of ACE2 in testes raises the possibility that testicular viral reservoirs may play a role in viral persistence in males and should be further investigated.”
To me, it raises a warning, and now we have to attend to that warning and do the research. It doesn’t tell you that it’s whole, viable, infectious virus. If I ground up the virus and performed this test, it would be positive even though that virus has no infectious potential. It doesn’t tell you that it’s whole, viable, infectious virus. If I ground up the virus and performed this test, it would be positive even though that virus has no infectious potential. Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn