BEIJING – Chinese molecular biologists have not found traces of coronavirus in the mucous membranes of the genitals of 35 women who have recently suffered pneumonia. This makes it doubtful that it can be transmitted sexually. The researchers write about this in an article published by the electronic scientific library medRxiv.
“The cells of the mucous membrane of the human genital organs do not have ACE2 receptors, which the coronavirus uses in order to enter the body of new victims. Our observations show that the virus was not transmitted from women to their partners. On the other hand, we cannot exclude the possibility that it could spread in other ways during their contacts, ”the biologists say.
Recently, reports appeared in the media that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (formerly called 2019-nCoV), which caused an outbreak of pneumonia in China and several other countries, can be transmitted not only by airborne droplets, but also through sexual contact. In China, scientists from Wuhan University of Science and Technology tested these statements in practice.
To do this, they studied the contents of the mucous membranes of the genitals in 35 Wuhan residents who were admitted to the hospital with viral pneumonia between January 28 and February 18. Biologists collected samples of secretions from their genitals and tried to find traces of the virus in them. In addition, scientists interviewed women whether they entered into a relationship during the incubation period.
These observations and surveys showed that the possibility of direct sexual transmission of the infection is almost completely excluded. In favor of this, biologists have not found traces of the virus in the genitals of all women, as well as in other mucous membranes of their bodies. Moreover, the spouse of one of the patients was not infected, despite repeated sexual intercourse between them.
At the same time, scientists emphasize that a similar feature of coronavirus does not prevent the infection from being transmitted in other ways, including by airborne droplets or through the gastrointestinal tract. This explains how approximately half of the husbands of these women contracted the coronavirus from them, despite the absence of sexual intercourse between the spouses during the incubation period in all but one case.
The new type of coronavirus belongs to the same group of viruses as SARS and MERS, the causative agents of SARS and Middle Eastern fever. Over the past ten years, both viruses have claimed the lives of several hundred people in the Middle East and East Asia, as well as repeatedly causing epidemics, spreading through camels and poultry. The initial carrier of the 2019-nCoV virus, scientists suggest, was bats, and there was also evidence that pangolins or snakes could be “guilty” of this.