Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
WHILE it is necessary to celebrate the 27 percent of Covid-19 recoveries recorded since the March 20 outbreak of the infection in the country, medical experts warn that those who recover may find themselves battling life-long side effects including erectile dysfunction.

The secondary effects of drugs and the toll the actual virus may take on the body should be enough to convince people, who still believe that Covid-19 is not real, to take precautions, experts said yesterday.

Zimbabwe has 3 659 confirmed cases and of those cases 1 011 have recovered from the deadly virus. As of Saturday, 69 people which accounts for one percent, had succumbed to Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.

In Bulawayo, 886 cases have been recorded with 20 deaths and 437 recoveries which is above the national average.

Researchers say Covid-19 and the continuous lockdown conditions which have been imposed in many countries have left some people jobless, others staying at home without any activities, and most of them now face economic issues that lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

According to Dr Khayelihle Dube, Covid-19 causes inflammation throughout the body and affects a number of organs.

He said loss of libido in both men and women, caused by a combination of factors, may occur after a person recovers from Covid-19.

“Erectile dysfunction may or may not happen as that is caused by two things, physical and psychological reasons. If a patient has brain fog and they have difficulties in thinking they may just be stressed which causes erectile dysfunction. Covid-19 can affect one’s arteries and to sustain an erection one needs a good blood supply so if arteries that are delivering blood to the penis are not working properly, then one won’t just have an erection or sustain one,” said Dr Dube.

He added that other patients who have recovered from Covid-19 complain of hypertension which can cause erectile dysfunction.

“There hasn’t been any research on erectile dysfunction but based on what I have just explained, it makes sense that Covid-19 may affect an erection.”

“Covid has a particular protein that touches the ACE receptors mostly found within the heart, lungs, gut, kidneys, arteries, the nervous system and other organs. Therefore, signs and symptoms go according to where the virus attaches, if it’s in the lungs it will cause shortness of breath,” said Dr Dube.

“When one heals from Covid-19, the body or wherever Covid-19 would have attached in the body might remain in a compromised state.”

The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2 “receptor,” is the protein that provides the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect human cells.

Dr Dube said researchers have witnessed that those who recover complain of brain fog and they cannot think clearly as there may be some cell damage within the brain that causes difficulties in thinking.

Mpilo acting chief executive officer Prof Solwayo Ngwenya said although there have been claims that Covid-19 may lead to erectile dysfunction, doctors were still researching on the issue.

“I don’t like this thing on emphasising on recoveries because Covid-19 is a very serious virus and one may recover only to suffer life-long side effects,” said Prof Ngwenya.

“It is very possible that Covid-19 affects erections and doctors are still carrying out research to establish how it affects the sexual organs but as we have said this thing must be avoided as it can wreak havoc in the body. It can affect many organs so rather members of the public remain safe and adhere to everything they have been told.”

He said the proven side-effects include one permanently losing their sense of smell and taste.

“It may damage your kidneys as you may have long term damage and become in need of renal dialysis. We have a well-known struggle in providing dialysis for those in need in Zimbabwe. So, I urge the public to be extremely wary of this virus and not get it in their systems for starters as they may die or recover to suffer serious harm in their bodies,” added Prof Ngwenya. [email protected]