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In this Slay News article, linked to by popular right-wing aggregator Off The Press:

According to independent journalist JD Rucker, the establishment media and their allies are ignoring the obvious. “Ever since the rollout of Covid-19 ‘vaccines,’ evidence started emerging that they caused reproductive damage to recipients,” Rucker writes.

Is there any evidence linking a Covid vaccine to infertility, especially infertility rate?

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  • Comments should be used to clarify the question, not post answers or opinions.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 11, 2023 at 1:44
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    Welcome to the Skeptics Site, Hot Network Questions users. Again, do NOT post answers or opinions in the comments here. Also, we know the sources of the claims aren't reliable; that's kind of what makes the question appropriate for here.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 12, 2023 at 20:03

2 Answers 2

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JD Rucker claims that a falling birth rate is the result of reproductive damage caused by Covid-19 vaccines. However he does not say if he means all the vaccines or just some of them: none are specifically mentioned.

The claim seems to be centred around the news that Australia's birth rate in the first three months of 2023 were the lowest on record, and that it is not just Australia. I'll start by putting that into a broader context.

It is well known that the global birth rate has been falling for over half a century, as reported by (among many others) BBC News in 2020:

Fertility rate: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born
In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime... Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017.

It is substantiated by this graph from Our World in Data

enter image description here

If you hover over the original graph you can see the year for each node, and from 1968 until 2021 there was a fall in the birth rate in most years, with a small rise in some. But it doesn't deal with any affect of Covid vaccines, because there is about 2 years lead time from the 2019 outbreak of Covid-19 due to vaccines being developed and gestation.


There has, however been research into the possibility of the Covid-19 vaccines causing reproductive problems.

Here is a study published in 2022 by the Elsevier journal Vaccine and made available by the National Library of Medicine.

The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility-A systematic review and meta-analysis
Background
Despite literature’s evidence about COVID-19 vaccines' safety, concerns have arisen regarding adverse events, including the possible impact on fertility, accentuated by misinformation and anti-vaccine campaigns. The present study aims to answer the question: Is there any impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the fertility of men and women of reproductive age?
. . .
Conclusion
Based on the studies published so far, there is no scientific proof of any association between COVID-19 vaccines and fertility impairment in men or women.

And here is another article from the National Library of Medicine in 2022.

COVID-19 vaccine - can it affect fertility?
Abstract
Headlines have appeared across multiple social media platforms questioning the effects of newly authorised COVID-19 vaccines on fertility. Although the effects on future fertility were not studied in the initial trials, at present, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect of future fertility. It is well known that pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications associated with COVID-19 such as ICU admission and death, and there is a rare but tragic increase in placentitis and stillbirth, highlighting the importance for those planning a pregnancy any time in the future to be vaccinated. Here we summarise international consensus from multiple organisations advising on fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine. Preliminary studies all suggest that there is neither link, nor indeed any theoretical reason why any of the COVID-19 vaccines might affect fertility. Dissemination of misinformation regarding the impact of the vaccine on future fertility needs to be controlled in order to avoid any hesitancy amongst young women attending for vaccination. It is also vital that the medical profession counteract this information, and, in order to do that, healthcare providers must be well informed on the latest recommendations and research.


What these articles say, is that

  • there is no scientific proof of any association between COVID-19 vaccines and fertility impairment in men or women

  • there is neither link, nor indeed any theoretical reason why any of the COVID-19 vaccines might affect fertility

Although it might be early days to draw a definite conclusion, JD Rucker's claim is a generalisation based on his own self-confessed lack of knowledge, and a "prima facie apparent cause", which means he has not actually investigated its truth.

In other words, the claim is groundless.

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    Well debunked. Also worth mentioning that the antivaxxers who are so ready to attribute any trend to Covid vaccines almost always ignore the possibility that the trend might be due to Covid itself, rather than the vaccine. Jul 10, 2023 at 9:05
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    @MichaelKay I love the use of prima facie which makes the claim sound important like first degree or prime suspect etc, whereas it means "without examining in detail". Jul 10, 2023 at 9:08
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    a nice of example of how a statement that takes 15 seconds to say, requires a lot of work to debunk.
    – OrigamiEye
    Jul 10, 2023 at 9:19
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    @Oddthinking You've got the burden of evidence the wrong way around there. The original claim has no evidence and is predicated on both faulty reasoning and an untrue premise, so it's debunked. This is skeptics stackexchange, not font of absolute truth stackexchange. Jul 10, 2023 at 14:42
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    @Oddthinking The claim being interrogated here is not whether vaccines will cause birth rate drops. The claim is that “Ever since the rollout of Covid-19 ‘vaccines,’ evidence started emerging that they caused reproductive damage to recipients,” Jul 10, 2023 at 14:57
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Fertility Rate:

[The] average number of children born to women during their reproductive years.
Fertility rate | Britannica

The fertility rate of a population is affected by individual choice (celibacy, contraception, abortion, postponing first child, etc.).

Fertility:

[The] ability of an individual or couple to reproduce through normal sexual activity. About 90 percent of healthy, fertile women are able to conceive within one year if they have intercourse regularly without contraception. Normal fertility requires the production of enough healthy sperm by the male and viable eggs by the female, successful passage of the sperm through open ducts from the male testes to the female fallopian tubes, penetration of a healthy egg, and implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus (see reproductive system). A problem with any of these steps can cause infertility.
Fertility | Britannica

The fertility of an individual is affected by disease, injury, drugs, etc.


Fertility is what individual people are physically capable of achieving.
Fertility Rate is what people have collectively achieved.

The claim is conflating these two concepts.

If COVID-19 vaccines did have a significant effect on individual fertility, it would cause a reduction in the fertility rate. But that reduction int the fertility rate would be very small in comparison to the actual reduction in individual fertility. To have a significant effect, the vaccine would have to cause severe infertility in a very large percentage of the population, something that we know hasn't happened.

This claim is confusing cause and effect by saying that because there is a reduction in the fertility rate, it must have been caused by COVID-19 vaccine.

That's bad logic applied to misrepresented facts.

And as The Mayo Clinic says:

There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in men or women.

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  • This doesn't address the question. The article warns that the fertility rate is low. Rucker says one of causes is COVID=19 vaccines do "reproductive damage", which as you point out would reduce fertility and thus the fertility rate. You are right that one mustn't assume that the correlation of vaccines and fertility drop implies causality... but that is why the question was asked. Is there causality?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 10, 2023 at 14:12
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    Did you mean to say "If it's true"?
    – Barmar
    Jul 10, 2023 at 14:45
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    This seems like a long-winded way to say "correlation does not equal causation".
    – Barmar
    Jul 10, 2023 at 14:46
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    It's true that if COVID-19 vaccines did have a significant effect on individual fertility, it would cause a reduction in the fertility rate. — only if the effect is huge, or if individual fertility is a limiting factor in total fertility rate, which it's not, really. Even if the number of actually infertile people would increase by a factor 5, that would probably be statistically negligible in the total fertility rate, because other reasons to have no children (or just one) are far more common.
    – gerrit
    Jul 10, 2023 at 15:06

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