SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in semen of some patients after COVID-19 recovery

  • Li D, & et al
  • JAMA Network Open
  • 8 May 2020

  • curated by Liz Scherer
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in the semen of some patients with confirmed COVID-19 as well as in a small percentage of patients in the immediate postrecovery period.
  • Further studies are needed to determine if SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually.

Why this matters

  • This study does not confirm transmission, but out of an abundance of caution, clinicians might consider advising abstinence or condom use in patients recovering or newly recovered from COVID-19.

Key results

  • 38/50 patients provided semen samples.
  • 60.5% (23) had clinical recovery, and 39.5% (15) were in the acute infection stages.
  • Semen specimens were SARS-CoV-2-positive in 6 (15.8%).
    • 4/15 (26.7%) were still in the acute phase of COVID-19.
    • 2/23 (8.7%) were recovering.
    • All but 1 of the 6 were under age 50 years.
    • The longest time since symptom onset among these 6 patients was 16 days.
    • The 2 recovered patients were 2-3 days postrecovery.
  • No significant differences were found in positive vs negative testing relative to age, urogenital disease history, days since symptom onset, hospitalization, or clinical recovery.

Study design 

  • Prospective cohort study.
  • Funding: State Key Laboratory of Kidney Diseases, Shangqiu, China.

Limitations

  • Observational.
  • Small numbers.
  • Short follow-up.