Ómicron presents new risks for pregnant women without vaccines

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The omicron variant is increasing risks for this little-talked-about demographic: pregnant women.

After being left out of preliminary vaccine trials and faced with confusing messages and misinformation about the dangers to their unborn children, a disproportionately large number of pregnant women have avoided covid vaccines. About 75% of pregnant women in the UK and about 65% in the US remain unvaccinated, making them one of the groups at highest risk for infection and exposing them to severe disease as the disease rises. contagious omicron variant spreads throughout the world.

At least 17 pregnant women and four babies died from COVID-19 in England between May and October, according to figures released last week. During that period, 98% of pregnant women admitted to intensive care were not vaccinated.

“The uptake of vaccines among pregnant women is sadly low and a significant number of women have suffered serious harm as a result,” Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, told lawmakers last week: “Pregnancy is a period of vulnerability. We should have made that point clearer earlier. “

Information on this group remains scarce in much of Europe. While real-world data showed during the spring and summer that vaccines are safe and effective for them, the absence of pregnant women in pre-testing the vaccines led to a reluctance that is hard to get rid of.

The reluctance to vaccinate aggravates the immunocompromised condition that causes in the pregnant woman the effort that her body makes to achieve the growth of the fetus. The risk of severe covid-19 is particularly high in the third trimester of pregnancy and increases the possibility that the baby will be born prematurely or die. It also raises the possibility of long-term health problems for the expectant mother.

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Many maternal care specialists saw this coming, said Pat O’Brien, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“We were concerned from day one that it could be worse in pregnant women than in other people because that is what has happened with other respiratory viruses, such as SARS and influenza,” O’Brien said. “We must learn the lesson that pregnant women should be included when it is safe to do so at an early stage in the trials of all new vaccines and drugs.”

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