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Prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection in couples seeking in vitro fertilization treatment in Riyadh, July–November, 2020

Obstetrics & Gynecology International Journal
Khalid Arab Awartani, Amani Aldriweesh, Ali Alhibshi, Fatimah Abualsaud


Background: After the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, assisted reproductive services were suspended and restarted in in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics worldwide. In our center we implemented screening of all couples for COVID-19 the day before starting the ovulation cycle and before the ovum pick-up (OPU) procedure.
Objectives: Assess the prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 among couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Design: Cross-sectional and retrospective cohort study
Setting: An IVF unit in Riyadh from July to November 2020.
Patients and methods: Patients and their partners were tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection 24-48 hours before their initial visit to initiate the fertility cycle and again prior to the ovum pick-up visit.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Sample size: 508 couples.
Results: A total of 508 couples were tested. Of the 508 cycles of therapy, 24 (4.7%) were cancelled, 16 (3.14%) before the start of the cycle, and 8 (1.66%) before ovum pick-up, because one or both partners in the couple tested SARS-CoV-2 positive. Before the start of the cycle, 3 patients and their partners both tested positive; 7 patients tested positive and their partners tested negative; and 6 partners tested positive and the patient testing negative. In addition, on retesting 481 couples before OPU 3 patients and their partners both tested positive; 3 patients tested positive, and their partners tested negative; and 2 partners tested positive and the patients tested negative.
Conclusion: The prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in couples seeking IVF was higher than that in the general population. Implementing a policy of screening couples for SARS-CoV-2 prior to IVF treatment, minimized the possibility of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from patients to healthcare workers.


SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Asymptomatic infection, In vitro fertilization