Sperm not impacted by Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; neuropsychiatric symptoms persist in COVID-19 survivors

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears not to affect sperm

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE does not damage sperm, according to a study by Israeli researchers. They collected sperm samples from 43 male volunteers before and roughly a month after the men were vaccinated. None of their sperm parameters – volume, concentration, or motility – had changed significantly after vaccination, the researchers reported Monday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. “These preliminary results are reassuring to the young male population undergoing vaccination worldwide,” the researchers said. “Couples desiring to conceive should vaccinate, as vaccination does not affect sperm,” whereas previous studies have shown that coronavirus infection does affect sperm adversely. 

Neuropsychiatric symptoms are common in COVID-19 survivors, a large new analysis confirms. Researchers pooled data from 51 studies involving a total of nearly 19,000 patients who were tracked for up to six months. The average follow-up was 77 days post-diagnosis. Overall, 27.4% reported sleep problems, 24.4% had fatigue, 20.2% scored poorly on objective tests of cognition, 19.1% reported anxiety, and 15.7% had post-traumatic stress. Nerve disturbances and dizziness or vertigo were less common but were seen in “a non-negligible proportion” of patients, the research team reported on Tuesday in a paper posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Only about 7% of the patients were said to have required intensive care, based on this meta-analysis in which some papers were not clear on intensive care figures. “There was little or no evidence of differential symptom prevalence based on hospitalization status, severity, or follow-up duration,” the researchers said. They caution that some of the patients may still have been in the acute phase of their infections, and longer follow-up will be necessary to know how long these problems persist, and whether they are effects of viral infection in general or are specific to the new coronavirus.

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