Study of 200,000 people shows Covid-19 vaccine 'zero threat' to fertility

Experts debunk myths on social media in attempt to combat vaccine hesitancy

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Scientists have debunked myths circulating on social media that claim vaccines against Covid-19 could cause infertility.

Incorrect claims that the Pfizer vaccine could cause a woman’s body to attack the placenta, leading to infertility, were dismissed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

We now have robust data of nearly 200,000 women from across the US and the UK, who have received the Covid-19 vaccine with no safety concerns
Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

College spokeswoman, Prof Lucy Chappell, an obstetrician at King's College London, said there was “no plausible biological mechanism” by which the vaccine could affect fertility.

“When you get the vaccine you develop an antibody to the spike protein, similar to if you had a Covid-19 infection," Prof Chappell said.

“Those antibodies don’t affect your fertility. There have been myths that the proteins are similar, but lots of proteins are similar.

“It doesn’t mean that the vaccine can impact your fertility.”

Pfizer vaccinations have been made available for women in their 13th week of pregnancy in Dubai since June.

The Dubai Health Authority recommends that expectant mothers consult their doctors before being inoculated.

Other similar vaccines, such as those used to fight flu or whooping cough, have for years been used safely by pregnant women or those trying to start a family.

Such non-live vaccines are proven to be safe.

During clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines, data showed that the percentage of women who had been vaccinated and then became pregnant was the same as those who received placebos.

Researchers also monitored sperm counts for men who received the vaccines compared with those who did not.

Vaccines safe to take during pregnancy

A pregnant woman in Colombia shows she has received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. AFP

Social media posts highlighted guidance issued by the UK government in the early stages of the vaccine campaign stating it was unknown if the Pfizer vaccine affected fertility.

The scientific description of “no evidence” was a result of no long-term research to support the vaccine.

That has since been amended in UK government advice, and updated to state that animal studies do not indicate any harmful effects on the reproductive system.

Anecdotal reports worldwide among women support medical statements that vaccines are safe during pregnancy, and for those trying for a baby.

A new £7.5 million ($10.39m) UK government study, led by St George’s, University of London, will investigate and monitor the immune response in pregnant women and their babies to vaccination at different dose intervals.

Dr Pat O’Brien, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, welcomed the trial, but emphasised that the current evidence shows women should not be concerned.

“We now have robust data of nearly 200,000 women from across the US and the UK, who have received the Covid-19 vaccine with no safety concerns,” he said.

“This tells us that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe in pregnancy.”

Updated: August 11, 2021, 2:43 PM