The new coronavirus can persist in men’s semen even after they have begun to recover, a finding that raises the possibility the virus could be sexually transmitted, Chinese researchers said Thursday.
A team at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital tested 38 male patients treated there at the height of the pandemic in China, in January and February.About 16% of them had evidence of the coronavirus in their semen, the team reported in the journal JAMA Network Open.
About a quarter of them were in the acute stage of infection and nearly 9% of them were recovering, the team reported.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients,” Diangeng Li of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and colleagues wrote.”
Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes,” the team added.
Privileged immunity means the immune system cannot fully reach the region to attack viral invaders.