Polish scientists’ take on SARS-CoV-2

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to Polish virologists becoming some of the most consulted sources of information on the pathogen. Hereby we present the statements by three scientists, two of whom disagree as to whether the SARS-CoV-2 can cause infertility among men.

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Asked about complications resulting from the SARS-CoV-2, virologist Professor Włodzimierz Gut told wNet private radio that the virus “just like any pneumonia, leaves its mark on the patient. It’s not so simple to say that it’s just this coronavirus that does so. A scar is left following each instance of healing. What we mean here is pulmonary fibrosis that results in the shrinking of the surface that we use to exchange gases [breath].”

Professor Gut said that pulmonary fibrosis could be especially dangerous when coinciding with other defects of the respiratory system and also diseases of the cardiovascular system and those maladies which affect the immune system.

The scientist also said that a person who managed to recover from COVID-19 needs to remain on alert as “her or his organism would be exhausted from the fight with the pathogen, which could leave a window of possibility for new infections from elsewhere.”

The professor also said that the accounts of falling sick of the COVID 19 after one had recovered from it were a matter of mistaking remnants of the SARS-CoV-2 in a recovered patient’s body rather than the patient actually contracting the disease for a second time. Nevertheless, the professor said that this still needed to be corroborated.

Professor Gut also said that reports of the SARS-CoV-2’s capabilities of attacking testicles required more confirmation. “Reports have it that a pregnant woman can contract the virus, and the number of such cases has already made itself noticeable, however, there’s no proof that this could cause fetal defects.”

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More research needed but seems the virus could attack male genitals

For his part, virologist and former Deputy Health Minister Zbigniew Hałat said that “one of the points onto which the virus can hook is the receptors located in testicles, namely the semen-producing Leydig cells. A risk exists that the individuals who survive the disease and make through it symptomless may end up infertile. This whole situation is not just about counting losses among elderly people.” The scientist said that although the propensity of the SARS-CoV-2 to attack the genital system still needed to be researched more scrutinously, “given the fact that we have discovered this receptor in testicles, we need to reckon with the fact that the inflammation caused by the virus there can lead to male infertility.” Quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statement, Mr Hałat also said that, contrary to initial assumptions, using facemasks was desirable. “A facemask, even a homemade one, even a scarf, whatever you can cover your face with… I myself have already started growing moustaches and hair in my nostrils to filter the air efficiently. God made us capable of filtering air through the nasal mucosa, so we should use it.”

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No scientific proof that the coronavirus was lab-produced

Comparing the death rates of SARS-CoV-1, MERS and SARS-CoV-2, Associated Professor Piotr Rzymski of Poznań University of Medical Sciences (UMP) noted that the death rate of the latter was, at the moment of speaking, “significantly lower than the two former coronaviruses.” The scientist nonetheless stressed that definitive assessments of the SARS-CoV-2 mortality would only become authoritative when the pandemic COVID-19 situation winds down. The scientist also said that the body of the SARS-CoV-2 turned out to be one of the largest among the coronaviruses known to humanity. Mr Rzymski also stressed that there was no scientific proof that the SARS-CoV-2 was designed in a laboratory. “This needs to be made clear… spreading this type of convictions is highly detrimental because it provokes fear, which in turn hampers the controlling of the current situation,” said Mr Rzymski, citing a comparative analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 genome with bat-related coronavirus genomes that revealed a 96 percent similarity between the two.