by Cristiana Ubaldi
Giulia Scaravelli, Paolo Emanuele Levi Setti, Gianluca Gennarelli, Luca Mencaglia, Filippo Maria Ubaldi, Roberto De Luca, Danilo Cimadomo, Roberta Spoletini, Vincenzo Vigiliano, Pier Paolo Sileri
Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics https://doi.org/10.1007/s10815-022-02600-2 Received: 22 June 2022 / Accepted: 18 August 2022 / Published: 23 August 2022
Purpose Since the end of February 2020, SARS-CoV-2 dramatically spread in Italy. To ensure that most of National Health System (NHS) resources were employed to control the pandemic, non-urgent medical procedures (including IVF) were suspended in March 2020. Here, we aimed at assessing the impact of the restrictive measures on Italian IVF activity.
Methods In May 2020, the Italian ART Register launched an online survey (multiple choices and open answers) across ART centers (89.0% response rate; N = 170/191) to investigate how they were facing the emergency and estimate the reduction in their activity. In February 2022, the official data of the whole 2020 were published and retrospectively analyzed. The ART cycles conducted in Italy in 2020 (67,928 by 57,423 patients) were then compared to those conducted in 2019 (82,476 by 67,633 patients). The estimates formulated through the survey were compared to the actual reduction.
Results In 2020, 14,548 less IVF cycles were conducted with respect to 2019 (− 17.6% reduction). This led to 2539 fewer live births (− 19.8%) than 2019. If the reduction unveiled by the survey launched in May 2020 (i.e., − 35%) would have per- sisted throughout 2020, a significantly larger impact was expected (4200 less newborns). Instead, the activity was gradually recovered, and it compensated the months of greatest emergency, thus fulfilling the most optimistic scenario.
Conclusions Italy suffers from the lowest birth rate in Europe, and COVID-19 impact on IVF-derived live births testified how key ART is for Italian demographics. The government should support access to these treatments with dedicated actions.
Keywords ART National Register · Assisted reproductive techniques · Gamete donation · SARS-CoV-2 · COVID-19