Norwegian scientists start collecting sperm samples for the first time from patients with Covid-19 and have began to make research on how the virus affects their immune system and their offsprings’.
Their goal is to study whether Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection affects the development of patients’ immune systems and can ultimately affect their offspring’s immune system. So far 50 patients aged 30 to 40 have given sperm, while other younger ones will follow. After 12 months, sperm will be collected again from the same individuals to detect any changes.
«The immune system is affected by infections of all kinds. We want to study how it is affected by Covid-19 and also whether this infection affects the immune systems of future generations. That is why we decided, in addition to the patients’ blood, to examine their sperm,» said lead researcher Cecilia Svanes, a professor at the Center for International Health at the University of Bergen.
The virus “trains” the immune system
In the first human study of its kind, Svanes, in collaboration with Professor Rebecca Cox of the same university’s Influenza Center, wanted to find out if Covid-19 “trains” the immune system in a good or bad way.
«Previous animal studies have shown that infections can affect the immune system of a future generation in both a negative and a positive way,» said Dr. Svanes.
Researchers can’t wait until patients with coronavirus have children to study the immune system of the offspring themselves, so they will study the patients’ sperm and compare it to that of people without Covid-19.
«If we find significant negative changes in sperm, then there is a possibility to advise people not to have children, before e.g. One year since the Covid-19 infection,» Svanes said.