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Unvaccinated pregnant women hospitalised with COVID-19

Friday July 30th 2021

Pregnant women are being urged to have the COVID-19 vaccination after 200 were admitted to hospital last week with the virus – almost all of whom were unvaccinated.

The chief midwifery officer for England says there is evidence that the Delta variant poses a significantly greater risk than all previous strains.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to becoming severely ill from COVID-19, and about one in ten who is admitted to hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 require intensive care. One in five pregnant women admitted to hospital with the virus gives birth prematurely.

New data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS), published on medRxiv, show that COVID-19 vaccinations offer effective protection from these risks.

The new data show that 3371 pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic up to 11 July 2021.

However, the severity of their illness has worsened, with 24% of women admitted in the first wave having moderate or severe disease, compared with 36% with the Alpha variant and 45% with the Delta variant.

Vaccination data has been collected since 1 February 2021 and analysis shows that of 742 women admitted since that date, only four had received a single dose of vaccine and none had received both doses.

This means more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, compared to 60% of the general population who have been admitted to hospital and are not vaccinated.

However, at least 55,000 pregnant women have received one or more doses in the UK.

Marian Knight, professor of maternal and child population health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and chief investigator of the study, said: “It is extremely good news that so few vaccinated pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

“However, it is very concerning that admissions of pregnant women to hospital with COVID-19 are increasing and that pregnant women appear to be more severely affected by the Delta variant of the disease.

“Around 200 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 last week. I cannot emphasise more strongly how important it is for pregnant women to get vaccinated in order to protect both them and their baby.

“Until they are vaccinated, pregnant women must continue to be extremely attentive to social distancing measures including mask wearing, 2m distancing and meeting outdoors where possible.”

First author Nicola Vousden, registrar in public health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, said worldwide more than 200,000 pregnant women have had a COVID vaccine, with more than 50,000 in the UK.

“This study shows that very few pregnant women are admitted to hospital with COVID-19 after they have received a vaccine,” she said.

“Other studies have shown that women who have received a vaccine pass on antibodies to their babies, so the benefits of vaccination to both pregnant women and their babies are clear.”

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), showed that women admitted in the Alpha period were more likely to need respiratory support, have pneumonia, and be admitted to intensive care, compared to women admitted in the first wave.

However, women admitted during the Delta period are at greater risk and a larger proportion were being treated for pneumonia.

Tags: A&E | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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