Published: March 2023
Why did birth rates tank in some countries in 2022?
The “lockdown-only” explanation is contradicted by the case of no-lockdown Sweden (-8.4%). The “mRNA infertility” explanation is contradicted by high-vaccination countries that saw no unusual decline in fertility, such as Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Chile (see chart below). Some of these countries saw “lockdown babies” in 2021, so the relevant comparison is to births in 2020.
There is clear evidence mRNA vaccines impact the menstrual cycle, but there is no evidence mRNA vaccines impact sperm quality. There is no evidence of a substantial increase in late-term stillbirths (0.5% of all pregnancies); if anything, mRNA vaccines might have impacted conception or early miscarriages (up to 20% of all pregnancies and sometimes unnoticed).
There is also clear evidence a covid infection increases the risk of miscarriage, but a “covid-only” explanation is contradicted by high-covid countries, such as the US and the southern European countries, that saw no unusual decline in births in 2022 (see chart below).
Thus, the best explanation likely remains the strong decrease in new marriages in 2020 and 2021 (-10% to -50% per country, including -25% in Sweden), combined with additional aspects such as the rate of extramarital births (10% in Greece to 60% in France) and the rate of second and third children per marriage. Data from countries like the US should be analyzed per region and ethnic group.
However, Pfizer never completed its vaccine trial in pregnant women, while the results of the Moderna vaccine trial in pregnant rodents were not very encouraging, to say the least. Thus, a worst-case scenario reminiscent of the Thalidomide scandal still cannot be fully excluded.