CHR’s COVID-19 Bulletin, April 16, 2020

[This article deals with a rapidly developing situation. It was written by Norbert Gleicher, MD, on April 16, 2020 and published on April 17, 2020. For a list of all COVID-19 Bulletins, scroll to the bottom.] 

As it appears that the nation, and even the New York Tristate area, have reached peak COVID-19 exposure, there is, finally, increasing talk about “reopening” the country to at least a beginning of more normal commercial activities. 

Quite obviously, the current status quo is economically not sustainable. We, indeed, may already be too late to prevent a very serious recession or even economic depression, as unemployment is threatening to exceed that of the Great Depression of 1929 – 1933.

Empty streets due to the “stay at home” measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Image by Obi Onyeador via Unsplash.

Within this context, it is also noteworthy to point out that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued on April 9, 2020 an executive order which explicitly acknowledged fertility services as “essential.” He, thus, followed exactly the argument made by CHR since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as to how fertility centers should react to orders by government authorities that mandated closure of non-essential services: If fertility centers offered “urgent” services to patients, then they should have remained open; if they just offered deferrable routine services, they, indeed, should have closed (as most did) until such services could again be provided without endangering patients and staff and without using up resources urgently needed elsewhere. What makese sense, makes sense!

It is our expectation that among those that closed, at least some fertility centers may never reopen. Those that wait too long, may risk losing significant parts of their following. Moreover, it will take time before a “normal” number of patients are once again ready to pursue infertility treatments. Those colleagues who believe that things will very quickly return to the usual “normal,” are likely mistaken. The economic shock has been too substantial for that to happen.

During the last recession, caused by the financial crisis of 2007, some of CHR’s investigators studied the utilization of IVF (i.e., number of IVF cycles) in the U.S. with reference to the level of economic activity (i.e., gross national product, GDP). The findings were quite astonishing: They demonstrated a very close association between IVF cycle activity in the U.S. and performance of GDP. IVF cycle activity was an early indicator of the recession, preceding shrinkage in GDP by over two months and also demonstrated a significantly delayed recovery after the GDP normalized, keeping IVF cycle numbers low for months, even after economic activity in the country had returned to normal. Based on early opinions from some of the leading economists, the worldwide economic recession of 2020 promises to be even more severe than the 2007-2009 recesion. That would not foreshadow a very good year for IVF in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere in the world) during the rest of 2020 and, likely, reaching into at least 2021.

CHR’s COVID-19 Bulletins

  1. COVID-19 accelerating the changing practice of assisted reproduction (published on October 16, 2020)
  2. [Preprint by Norbert Gleicher, MD] COVID-10 pandemic through the eyes of a New York City fertility center (published on August 20, 2020)
  3. News you, likely, will not find in the media (Published on July 6, 2020)
  4. Notable reports in medical literature and the media on COVID-19 and immunity against it (Published on July 6, 2020)
  5. COVID-19 cases rapidly increase in South and Western U.S. states but that will help build herd immunity (Published on June 29, 2020)
  6. Are we witnessing a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak? (Published on June 22, 2020)
  7. WHO was wrong about asymptomatic patients being contagious & other COVID-19 fake news (Published on June 10, 2020)
  8. Updated COVID-19 precautions at CHR (Published on June 9, 2020)
  9. What we now know about COVID-19 and what it means for mitigation strategies (Published on May 22, 2020)
  10. COVID-19 response in retrospect, as well as going forward (Published on May 7, 2020)
  11. The essence of the COVID-19 pandemic (Published on May 7, 2020)
  12. Practical consequences of COVID-19 for CHR’s fertility patients (Published May 7, 2020)
  13. IVF after COVID-19: ASRM and SART release reopening guidelines for IVF centers (Published on 4/29/2020)
  14. One medical expert, missing from all COVID-19 task forces, who should be listened to (Published on 4/29/2020)
  15. Governments worldwide should have let herd immunity develop rather than cause one of the worst recessions on wild guesses of “experts” (Published 4/27/2020)
  16. Reciprocal collaboration among IVF centers for cycle monitoring may be on the wane (Published 4/22/2020)
  17. Is embryo freezing better than IVF during COVID-19 outbreak? (Published on 4/17/2020)
  18. When to restart fertility treatments after COVID-19 (Published on 4/17/2020)
  19. “Reopening” of fertility centers after COVID-19: How that may look like (Published on 4/17/2020)
  20. Some IVF centers may never reopen (Published on 4/17/2020)
  21. Skepticism warranted for “expert opinions” on COVID-19 (Published on 4/13/2020)
  22. Fertility Providers’ Alliance tries to reframe ASRM’s reaffirmation of COVID-19 guidelines as FPA victory (Published on 4/6/2020)
  23. States in the Northeast may see first signs of “flattening the curve” (Published on 4/6/2020)
  24. Reported death rate exaggerated by the media, shelter in place or herd immunity, first COVID-19 antibody test approved, and more (Published on 4/3/2020)
  25. What can I do to continue on my fertility journey? [VIDEO] (Filmed on 3/26/2020, published on 4/2/2020)
  26. “Controversy” over ASRM recommendation hints at investor interest’s power grab amid COVID-19 pandemic (Published on 4/2/2020)
  27. Pregnant women concerned over delivery and babies during COVID-19 pandemic (Published 4/1/2020)
  28. ASRM’s COVID-19 Task Force reaffirms previous recommendations (Published 4/1/2020)
  29. To stay open or not: IVF centers argue over ASRM guidelines on COVID-19 and fertility treatments (Published 3/27/2020)
  30. Concerning news on COVID-19’s effects on pregnancy and newborn (Published 3/27/2020)
  31. What’s urgent is urgent and what’s not urgent isn’t: Explaining ASRM recommendations on fertility treatments during COVID-19 pandemic (Published 3/26/2020)
  32. Patient autonomy and “do no harm” principles mean CHR continues to offer fertility diagnosis and treatments during COVID-19 crisis (Published 3/23/2020)
  33. ASRM and SART’s recommendations on fertility treatment during COVID-19 outbreak (Published 3/18/2020)
  34. CHR’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak: What we are doing to protect our patients, staff and community (Published 3/13/2020)
  35. Does COVID-19 have an effect on fertility? (Published 3/13/2020) 
  36. What happens if I get quarantined during an IVF cycle? (Published 3/13/2020)
  37. What happens if CHR is closed for quarantine during my IVF cycle? (Published 3/13/2020) 
  38. What should fertility patients do during the coronavirus outbreak? (Published 3/13/2020) 
  39. Should international patients of IVF do anything differently during the outbreak? (Published 3/13/2020) 
Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.