Covid-19 vaccines do not harm fertility

13 July 2022
What was claimed

A new study and Pfizer documents prove that Covid-19 vaccination is going to cause mass depopulation through infertility and death.

Our verdict

This is not true. These documents show none of these things. Covid-19 vaccines do not harm fertility.

A website called the Exposé, which we have regularly fact checked for sharing l misinformation on social media during the pandemic, has published an incorrect article with the headline: “New Study & Pfizer Documents prove Covid-19 Vaccination is going to cause mass Depopulation through Infertility & Death”.

This is nonsense.

The Exposé has misrepresented evidence from a range of sources in a way that makes it look like the Covid-19 vaccines are harmful. As we’ve written previously, there is currently no evidence that the vaccines harm people’s fertility—nor any known reason why they might.

The article looks at four sources of information

We’ll take each of them in turn.

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Sperm quality

According to the Exposé: “Covid-19 vaccination is [...] going to lead to depopulation due to the adverse effect it has on the fertility of men because [...] respected doctors and scientists have discovered that Covid-19 vaccination decimates sperm count.”

It bases this claim on a study from Israel, looking at sperm samples from 37 donors, that we have written about before.

This study found that donors had lower sperm concentrations and lower sperm motility (meaning the number of sperm that can swim) in the months following vaccination, compared with the months before.

However, as we said in our last article, the study is small, it only considered sperm donors, not men in general, and did not mean that there was a lasting effect on these men’s fertility. It also said that the “long-term prognosis remains good” and that the vaccine “seems safe”. Other studies also found no effect on sperm quality from the Pfizer vaccine.

In short, this study does not provide evidence that the Pfizer vaccine causes infertility.

Lipid particles in rats

Citing another study released by Pfizer, the Exposé said the vaccine would affect women’s fertility “by attacking the ovaries.”

This is not true either. The research in question did not study any of the Covid-19 vaccines —or their effects on women. It involved injecting rats with lipid nanoparticles and mRNA. This mRNA was not the Covid-19 vaccine itself, but instead encoded a protein that was “not pharmacologically active”. (Lipid nanoparticles are a delivery system for mRNA, which carries instructions for cells.)

The research found that the concentration of the lipid nanoparticles in the female rats’ ovaries grew over time, but this does not mean it was “attacking” them, as the Exposé claimed. The researchers did not study the effects of the injection on the rats’ ability to reproduce.

However, another study—not mentioned by the Exposé—did look at the effects of the Pfizer vaccine itself on the fertility of female rats. It found: “There were no effects of [the vaccine] on female mating performance, fertility, or any ovarian or uterine parameters nor on embryo-fetal or postnatal survival, growth, physical development or neurofunctional development in the offspring through the end of lactation.”

Data from Scotland

The Exposé falsely says that the “consequences” of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine can be seen in rates of ovarian cancer in Scotland.

It cites data from Public Health Scotland, which shows that there were 323 people diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Scotland in the year to 27 December 2021, which was higher than both the 290 in the same period of 2019, and the 252 in 2020.

The blog also cites data from the same source showing that neonatal deaths briefly rose above the “control limits” in Scotland in September 2021 and March 2022. Control limits help experts decide “when values are unexpectedly low or high and require further investigation”.

This seems to be a case of ‘cherry picking’ data where the numbers happen to be worse. Some other forms of cancer were also higher in Scotland in 2021 compared with 2019 (such as kidney, liver and oesophagus cancers) and some were lower (such as brain tumours, leukaemias and Hodgkin lymphoma). Stillbirths and infant deaths in general did not breach the control limits, even though neonatal deaths did. As Public Health Scotland says, “As stillbirths and infant deaths are relatively rare events in Scotland mortality rates tend to fluctuate over time just by chance.”

The Exposé article claims that no investigation was announced into the number of neonatal deaths. However, an investigation into the unusual figures in March was announced. Dr Sarah Stock, an expert in maternal and foetal medicine told the BBC at the time that the Covid vaccines were not a factor

There is no reason at all to think that any of these numbers would be “consequences” of vaccination.

Adverse events

Finally, the Exposé article also claims: “Further evidence found in the confidential Pfizer documents suggests [the reason for higher neonatal death rates in Scotland] is most likely Covid-19 vaccination.”

This is also not true.

It is based on a document that presents an analysis of adverse events reported following vaccination with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. As we have said many, many times before, these are events that happened after someone received a dose of the vaccine—not events “due to exposure to the Pfizer injection”, as the Exposé wrongly claims.

The document itself explains: “An accumulation of adverse event reports (AERs) does not necessarily indicate that a particular AE was caused by the drug; rather, the event may be due to an underlying disease or some other factor(s) such as past medical history or concomitant medication.”

So, while several reports about pregnancy problems do appear in this document, this does not mean that the vaccine caused them.

The vaccines do not harm fertility

As we’ve said before, there is no reason to think that the Covid vaccines damage people’s fertility—and several reasons to be confident that they don’t.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says: “There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says: “There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility and your ability to have children.”

Image courtesy of Daniel Schludi

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