epa08262121 An undated handout picture made available by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows a 3D print of a spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes Covid-19, in front of a 3D print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle (issued 01 March 2020). The spike protein (foreground) enables the virus to enter and infect human cells. On the virus model, the virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells. US health officials announced on 29 February 2020 the first confirmed death from the new coronavirus in the country in Washington State. The novel coronavirus is on the verge of spreading across the world as more Covid-19 cases are emerging outside China with outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran. EPA/NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Vaccine spike protein link to male infertility is a failed conception

AAP FactCheck June 24, 2021

The Statement

An Instagram post cites a Canadian pathologist’s purported claim that men who receive a COVID-19 vaccine will “lose their reproductive capacity”, which could spell “the end of having children altogether”.

The June 11 post by an Australian user includes a photo of a man clutching his groin next to a caption with the headline: “UK Pathologist Warns Spike Proteins will Cause All Men to Lose their Reproductive Capacity.”

“The mRNA vaccines is (sic) found also to damage men’s reproductive organs, warns Dr. Roger Hodkinson of Western Medical Assessments. The vaccine spike proteins express themselves both in the placenta and the testes,” the caption says.

“For pregnant women, this could mean a terminated pregnancy. For men, it could spell the end of having children altogether. People who get the jabs are going to regret it, Dr. Hodkinson warns, because many, if not all, of them will lose their reproductive capacity.”

The post includes a link to an article from the European Union Times, a long-standing source of misinformation, extensively quoting Dr Hodkinson.

At the time of writing, the post had been viewed more than 16,000 times. Variations of the same claims have been shared in countries such as Canada, Estonia and the UK.

An Instagram post
 A post quotes a Canadian pathologis as claiming that mNRA vaccines damage male reproductive organs. 

The Analysis

There is no credible research that supports the claim that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines cause damage to male reproductive organs and cause men to become infertile.

The Instagram post and linked article claim Dr Hodkinson, a Canadian pathologist who has been quoted as describing COVID-19 as a “hoax”, said there was “sufficient evidence in the literature” to suggest that spike proteins resulting from mRNA vaccines express themselves both in the placenta and the testes.

However, Dr Hodkinson told AAP FactCheck in an email that there were “substantial inaccuracies” in the European Union Times article including “some things I did not say at all”.

He declined to state which parts were inaccurate and instead referred to an interview posted on LewRockwell.com, which frequently publishes anti-vaccination and conspiratorial material.

In the interview, Dr Hodkinson said there were serious scientific grounds for concern about the vaccines and male fertility, but he concedes these concerns were “not proven” (11min 14sec).

He later claims there is “scientific evidence in the literature for concern about the consequences of the vaccine targeting the ovaries and the spike proteins targeting the testes” without providing further details (12min 22sec).

Professor David Tscharke, a virologist and immunologist at the Australian National University (ANU), described the claim that spike proteins from vaccines inhibit reproductive function as “made up” and “extremely unlikely”.

“Unlike SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), which is a replicating infectious agent that can spread systemically, none of the vaccines are able to spread far from the site of injection and none disseminate through the body,” he told AAP FactCheck in an email.

“There is no plausible mechanism by which spike protein alone would disturb the function of the testes.”

Professor Mark Hedger, the head of the laboratory of endocrinology and immunophysiology at Melbourne’s Hudson Institute of Medical Research, told AAP FactCheck there was no evidence in medical literature to show that COVID-19 vaccines would leave men infertile.

“They’ve been doing clinical trials for 12 months ÔǪ if it was a problem, it would have been reported by now,” Prof Hedger said in a phone interview.

“We already know about blood clots, and they’re extremely rare events, and the sort of thing that we’re talking about here is an effect on fertility which would probably also be an extremely rare event if it was to occur, but there’s just been no mention of it.”

The article quotes Dr Hodkinson as saying that excess spike proteins generated by COVID-19 vaccines circulate in the testes, impairing reproductive function due to the presence of ACE2 receptors.

ACE2 enzymes are responsible for regulating various body processes, such as blood pressure, however in cases of coronavirus infection the virus attaches to the enzyme and inhibits its normal activities, leading to a higher risk of tissue damage in organs such as the heart and lungs.

However, Gaetan Burgio, a geneticist and infectious diseases researcher also at ANU, told AAP FactCheck in an email there is no evidence to date that “excess” spike proteins from the vaccines have been observed in reproductive organs.

“The vaccine only produces the key protein for viral infection (spike protein) and not the entire virus. Studies have demonstrated the virus needs to be produced to invade the tissue in the testes. Therefore the spike protein alone is not sufficient to bind ACE2 receptors in the testes,” Dr Burgio said.

An Israeli study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, into the Pfizer vaccine’s effect on male fertility concluded the vaccine “does not affect sperm whereas SARS-CoV-2 infection does impair sperm”.

A US study looking at the effect of mRNA vaccines on sperm quality in men concluded “there were no significant decreases in any sperm parameter among this small cohort of healthy men”.

“This is the full life cycle of sperm and 70 days is sufficient time to see if the vaccine impacts semen parameters,” Daniel C. Gonzalez, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

“We measured semen volume, sperm concentration, and the total amount of moving sperm and found there were no declines in any of the parameters as compared to the baseline analysis.”

Studies and reviews published in journals such as Nature, Reproduction and Journal of Medical Virology have suggested a potential link between COVID-19 infection – not vaccination – and a reduction in men’s fertility, although there is currently no evidence of long-term impacts.

Associate professor Peter Illingworth, the medical director at IVF Australia, told AAP FactCheck in a phone interview: “So far, there is no evidence of reduction of fertility (after infection) and there are a number of studies that have been published showing that, for example, IVF success rates, which is a much quicker marker of fertility than natural conception, is unchanged by men who have had COVID.”

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause sterility in women or generate “toxic” spike proteins that spread throughout the body.

A 3D print of a spike protein.
A 3D print of a spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The Verdict

There is no medical evidence to suggest that spike proteins generated from COVID-19 vaccines will affect male fertility. Experts say these proteins do not spread throughout the body or disturb reproductive functions, and research has shown that mRNA vaccines have no effect on sperm quality.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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