ECONOMYNEXT – Sajith* has vowed to wait until any vaccine other than China-made Sinopharm vaccine is made available.
The 28-year old youth from a Colombo suburb area is waiting to leave Sri Lanka once all the Covid-19 restrictions are over.
“Sinopharm could deny me a visa from the UK. I am also concerned over possible fertility issues with regard to vaccines,” he told EconomyNext, asking not to reveal his real identity given he has yet to be vaccinated.
“Many of my friends have decided not to get the vaccines, because there are some stories that these vaccines reduce fertility. But I want to get the vaccines because they are important for me to go abroad. Otherwise I too prefer to join my friends”
Sajith is one of those thousands of Sri Lankan youth who have been taking a risk without any vaccines so far despite top health officials have advised Sri Lankans to get any vaccine available at the moment.
However, there has been claims of visa denial and fertility reduction have hindered the latest vaccination programme among the people aged 20-29 years.
Sri Lanka started vaccinating this group from September 06 with the above 30 years of age groups being almost completely vaccinated by the government’s vaccination drive.
As of October 29, health authorities have said they had vaccinated nearly 60 percent out of a total 3.3 million in the 20-29 age group with the first dose and nearly 19 percent with both doses.
The vaccination is done mainly using the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine, the most used vaccine in the country along with AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Sputnik V.
False and misleading claims about Covid-19 vaccines, fertility and visa denial are still circulating online, despite not being supported by evidence.
The claims on some countries requesting travelers, students and employees coming from abroad to be vaccinated with a specific vaccine which has been recognized by the country has weighed on Sri Lanka’s vaccination programme.
People say they have got social media messages saying that travelers who had not been immunized with a particular recognized vaccine are being sent for mandatory quarantine or denied entry to the country.
“Along with other information circulating in the social media, the information saying countries won’t accept Sinopharm as a valid vaccine for the travelers to enter the country is a major issue” a student of the Sri Jayewardenepura University told EconomyNext.
“Most of the students in the university expects to travel abroad for higher education after the completion of the course in university”
“With that more students are demanding Pfizer of Moderna vaccines”
Fact checking on visa entry for those fully vaccinated with Sinopharm
According to a foreign ministry document on the entry requirement by various countries seen by EconomyNext, much of the information about not being able to get a visa after taking a certain Covid 19 vaccine is wrong.
An official who is dealing with inquiries over vaccine requirements for visas said people do not accept what they say.
“When we say you can take Sinopharm, these people who are not informed say they can’t take it because their desired country doesn’t accept it,” the official told EconomyNext on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to officially talk to the media.
The foreign ministry document shows some countries do not require vaccines and other countries requesting mandatory vaccination do not reject Sinopharm.
However, Sri Lanka is currently included in the list of high risk countries by Bulgaria, Bahrain, Qatar, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Malta, Turkey, Slovakia, and Thailand due to delta covid-19 variant.
The officials said when Sri Lanka is in the list of high risk countries, even if the people have been vaccinated with Prizer or Moderna, still they will not be allowed to enter the desired country because of Sri Lanka being in the red list.
“But in countries like Australia if you have been vaccinated with a vaccine that has not been approved by their authorities, you will need to undergo a quarantine time period, can be 10,14 or 21 days and should be tested negative in a PCR test before being released,” the official said.
“That is the requirement of those countries if you have taken a different vaccine.”
“if you are a person with some medical condition that has been advised to take a specific vaccination. In those cases, they have to make a special request to the Director General of Health, and he will give the approval after going case by case to get that specific vaccine.”
He said for ordinary travelers, there is no issue with regard to vaccines.
“Many countries now recognize the vaccines and if you have been jabbed with a vaccine that has not been recognized there, then you will have to undergo the quarantine period. But there are no restrictions saying you can’t enter a country.”
He said some Sri Lankans are demanding specific vaccines to save the money they have to pay in the quarantine process.
“Even when you go to China after being jabbed with the Sinopharm vaccine, you will have to go under a quarantine period for 21 days.”
Saudi Arabia requests the travelers to take a booster dose in the event of people having only got two Sinopharm.
“But they (Saudi) have allowed them to take a booster dose before coming or they have given the facility to take the booster dose after coming to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“But our people want to take it before going there, thinking they won’t be accepted or there will be issues.
“In Europe, Germany and France were the only countries that did not accept the Sinopharm vaccine. But we are checking to see whether they have changed the rules. Because from time to time they change the rules.”
“But other European countries, like the UK, Italy and others, do not have such restrictions.”
Fact checking on Covid vaccines reducing fertility
Health authorities said currently there is no evidence to prove any theory circulating in these platforms.
The Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA has said there is currently no evidence that antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccine or its ingredients would cause any problems with becoming pregnant now or in the future.
CDC said, many people have become pregnant after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, including some who got vaccinated during COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
In addition, a recent report using the data showed that 4,800 people had a positive pregnancy test after receiving a first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Another report using data from 8 U.S. healthcare systems documented more than 1,000 people who completed COVID-19 vaccination (with any COVID-19 vaccine) before becoming pregnant.
CDC has further said currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems.
Another study shows that the vaccines would not remain in ovaries as spreaded by social media.
The study involved giving rats a much higher dose of vaccine than that given to humans (1,333 times higher).
Only 0.1% of the total dose ended up in the animals’ ovaries, 48 hours after injection.
Far more – 53% after one hour and 25% after 48 hours – was found at the injection site (in humans, usually the arm). The next most common place was the liver (16% after 48 hours), which helps get rid of waste products from the blood.
The vaccine is delivered using a bubble of fat containing the virus’s genetic material, which kick-starts the body’s immune system.
And those promoting this claim cherry-picked a figure which actually referred to the concentration of fat found in the ovaries.
Fat levels in the ovaries did increase in the 48 hours after the jab, as the vaccine contents moved from the injection site around the body.
But, crucially, there was no evidence it still contained the virus’s genetic material.
We don’t know what happened after 48 hours as that was the limit of the study.
A recent small study of 45 healthy men who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine looked at sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination.
Researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.
Fever from illness has been associated with short-term decrease in sperm production in healthy men, it said.
“Although fever can be a side effect of COVID-19 vaccination, there is no current evidence that fever after COVID-vaccination affects sperm production,” the CDC said.
Also another recent study done in South Florida, USA has shown that while COVID-19 may harm the lungs, it’s a systemic disease that can also affect the heart, kidneys, brain and other organs, and those effects can last long after someone has recovered.
Among the list of ailments, mounting evidence suggests that COVID-19 may sabotage men’s sexual health.
The research was done by collecting the penile tissue from patients undergoing surgery for penile prosthesis surgery due to severe Erectile Dysfunction under an Institutional Review Board of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine approved protocol.
Patients’ ages ranged from 65 to 71 years old, and all were of Hispanic ethnicity.
Two specimens were obtained from males with a history of COVID-19 infection and two specimens were obtained from men with no history of infection.
The results of the research have revealed that widespread endothelial cell dysfunction from COVID-19 infection can contribute to resultant erectile dysfunction. Future studies will evaluate novel molecular mechanisms of how COVID-19 infection can lead to Erectile Dysfunction.
This shows vaccination does not affect fertility, but the effect of Covid-19 infection does.