Did a director of China's largest baby formula company, Feihe, reveal information about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy, saying many women cannot bear children within six months of receiving a coronavirus vaccination and that he expected a steep drop in powdered milk sales in the next year or two because of this?
While it is true that the Feihe director, Leng Youbin, did make a statement regarding a fall in the birth rate, his words regarding the reason were misconstrued. Some reports imply he said that it was not advised for women to become pregnant within six months after the vaccine, and others interpreted it to mean that women are unable to become pregnant after the vaccine. Lead Stories obtained a professional translation that makes it clear he is not talking about medical findings, but instead made a statement about what many couples believe: that the vaccines would have an effect on the fetus and they probably would elect to put off a pregnancy for several months. In March 2021, the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China released technical guidelines regarding the five Chinese-made vaccines approved for use in China and said, "For women who have a pregnancy plan, it is not necessary to delay the pregnancy plan just because of the new coronavirus vaccine."
Screenshots of press reports such as this example marked as coming from the New Zealand Herald are circulating online with claims that Feihe had revealed a side effect. One example is this post published on Instagram on June 19, 2021. The post was only captioned, "Wtf" The highlighted text in the newspaper clipping says:
Feihe, China's largest infant formula maker, said sales would drop sharply in the next one to two years since many women cannot bear children within six months of coronavirus vaccination - and thus delaying births.
This is how the post appeared on Instagram on June 22, 2021:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Jun 22 15:06:06 2021 UTC)
Lead Stories reached out to Deborah Chan, a lecturer of audiovisual translation at University College London to get a better understanding of what Leng Youbin said on June 8, 2021, when he addressed the Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Forum. A video posted to the Chinese video site bilibili.com titled, "The Director of Feihe Youbin Leng: this year may see a free-fall in birth rate; many people fear that the vaccine may affect the foetus and postpone pregnancy." The part in question begins forty five seconds in. Chan translated Youbin's words this way:
... number 2, from last year we saw a rapid drop of birth rate... and in this year it could be a free fall-style drop. From the current vaccination trend, many young couples believe that the vaccines would have an effect on the foetus. Probably would not have babies within 6 months...
(Source: screenshot bilibili.com taken on Tue Jun 22 18:36:41 2021 UTC)
The meaning of the words Youbin actually said is very different from the translated text in the clipping posted on Instagram.
On March 29, 2021, the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention in China released a document on the National Health Commission website. It is called, "Technical Guidelines for New Coronavirus Vaccination" and discusses the five vaccines made in China that were approved for use in China and for distribution to many countries around the world. These vaccines are different from the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. Three use inactivated viruses, one is an adenovirus vector vaccine, the last is a recombinant subunit vaccine. Special recommendations are included for people in specific populations, the fourth group mentioned:
Women of childbearing age and breastfeeding period:
If you get pregnant after vaccination or get the vaccine without knowing your pregnancy, based on the understanding of the safety of the above vaccines, it is not recommended to take special medical measures (such as termination of pregnancy) just because of the new coronavirus vaccine. It is recommended to do a pregnancy check and Follow up. For women who have a pregnancy plan, it is not necessary to delay the pregnancy plan just because of the new coronavirus vaccine.
Although there is currently no clinical research data on the impact of new coronavirus vaccines in breastfeeding women on breastfeeding infants, based on the understanding of the safety of the vaccine, it is recommended to vaccinate breastfeeding women (such as medical staff) who are at high risk of new coronavirus infections. . Considering the importance of breastfeeding to the nutrition and health of infants and young children, referring to internationally accepted practices, breastfeeding women are advised to continue breastfeeding after being vaccinated against the new coronavirus.
The CDC guidance for "COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding" notes that while clinical trials focusing on pregnant women and the U.S. COVID-19 vaccines have not been finished, no safety concerns regarding pregnancy or breastfeeding have been identified. Women are advised to discuss vaccination questions with their healthcare provider:
Getting Vaccinated is a Personal Choice
If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. You may want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to help you decide whether to receive a vaccine that has been authorized for use under Emergency Use Authorization. While a conversation with your healthcare provider may be helpful, it is not required prior to vaccination.