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Covid-19: vaccine hesitation in pregnant women leads to an increase in Covid hospitalizations

The reluctance to get vaccinated is likely due to fluctuating guidelines from health officials at the start of the pandemic. Initially, the CDC said pregnant people could get the shot, but it didn’t recommend it. This is because the initial studies of the vaccine did not intentionally include pregnant people, although some participants did become pregnant during the studies. But everything changed in the summer. In late July, two major associations of OBGYN gave unequivocal support for the vaccine, and in August the CDC officially recommended the vaccine after studies showed no increased risk of miscarriage. Last month, the CDC sent an urgent appeal that strongly recommended that pregnant women get the vaccine immediately.
However, the low vaccination rate in this population persists. And that’s translating into a worrying surge in hospital admissions that leaves some new mothers stranded in hospital and fighting for their lives for weeks before holding their newborns. Others will never meet their babies.
At least 180 pregnant people have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic, with 22 deaths recorded in August alone, according to the CDC. Mortality rates among this group are of particular concern, given that annual non-Covid maternal mortality rates hover around 700 per year. More than 22,500 pregnant people have been hospitalized with Covid since the start of the pandemic, with 12% of those cases resulting in intensive care admission, CDC figures show.

The outlook in England is even bleaker. One in five of the nation’s most seriously ill Covid patients is an unvaccinated pregnant woman, the National Health Service (NHS) said in a statement on Monday. Pregnant women accounted for almost one-third (32%) of all women aged 16 to 49 on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – a medical therapy used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels, the NHS said. That figure was up from just 6% at the start of the pandemic. NHS figures have been released to encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated. England’s chief midwife Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent said the statistics were “another stark reminder that the Covid-19 vaccine can keep you, your baby and your loved ones safe and out of the world. ‘hospital”.

Globally, Covid vaccine guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding people still vary, with 51 countries explicitly recommending that some or all pregnant people receive the vaccine, according to the COMIT Covid-19 Maternal Immunization Tracker. Vaccines are licensed for pregnant women in 53 countries and in 23 other countries for people who are essential health workers or have underlying health problems. A total of 32 countries do not yet recommend the vaccine for pregnant women.

Meanwhile, two studies by researchers in the United States and Belgium suggest that the incidence of Covid in children appears to be comparable to that in adults. This is leading public health officials to consider the message regarding immunization strategies for children as the rollout expands to younger populations.


Q: Do Covid vaccines affect pregnancy, fertility or menstruation?

A: There is a lot of misinformation circulating around the claim that vaccines cause miscarriages and affect fertility. But they are not supported by scientific evidence.

Two studies published in September show that Covid vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage. CDC researchers studied data from more than 2,000 pregnant women who were vaccinated. They found no higher risk in this group than for pregnant women in general. Miscarriages are common – between 11% and 22% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriages before 20 weeks gestation, they said. This rate did not increase among those vaccinated, according to the researchers.

There is some evidence that the immune response elicited by vaccines and viral infections can temporarily affect menstrual cycles. It is therefore important to study these effects to alleviate fears, according to Dr Victoria Male, reproduction specialist at Imperial College London. “Young women’s reluctance to vaccines is largely driven by false claims that Covid-19 vaccines could harm their chances of future pregnancy,” Male wrote in the British Medical Journal last month. “Failure to thoroughly investigate reports of menstrual changes after vaccination is likely to fuel these fears,” she added.

“Most people who report a change in their period after vaccination find that they return to normal the next cycle and, most importantly, there is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility,” said Male said.

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Chinese blood bank samples will provide ‘vital clues’ to the origins of the pandemic

China is preparing to test tens of thousands of samples from Wuhan city blood banks as part of an investigation into the origins of Covid-19, according to a Chinese official, writes Nick Paton Walsh. The move comes amid growing calls for transparency on the emergence of the virus.

The store, which can hold up to 200,000 samples, including those from the last months of 2019, was identified in February of this year by the World Health Organization panel of investigators as a possible source of information that could help determine when and where the virus first spread to humans. .

British schools are new battleground in Covid’s war of disinformation

Vaccine disinformation efforts targeting children and their parents have made their way to the UK, with the rollout of Covid vaccinations for children opening a new front in the fight against disinformation, writes Laura Smith-Spark. The UK government last month announced it would extend vaccinations to children aged 12 to 15, in hopes the measure would protect children from catching the virus, reduce transmission in schools and limit disruption of their education. At the same time as this announcement, the anti-vax activists, who demonstrated right to the doors of schools.

In a school in central England, a principal had to involve the police after receiving “abusive and threatening messages” from activists who had put up posters accusing the school of “treating children like laboratory animals”.

While parents in the UK are generally required to allow vaccination for children under 16, children can bypass parents reluctant to get vaccinated if a clinician considers them “competent” to do so, the government said. .

Sydney came out of her “cave”

For the first year of the pandemic, Australia has been one of the few major countries to successfully control the virus through strict border restrictions, mandatory quarantine and temporary lockdowns. But in June, a Delta epidemic in Sydney quickly spread to neighboring Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Delays in the rollout of vaccination in the country, in part due to poor supplies, have made the population vulnerable, forcing authorities to impose local closures.

Fully vaccinated Sydney residents, who make up more than 70% of the city’s adults, emerged from their so-called “cave” on Monday, meeting their loved ones in nursing homes and returning to restaurants, bars and restaurants. gymnasiums. But all that hard-earned freedom will come at a cost, writes Ben Westcott, with national modeling suggesting Sydney will see thousands of new infections and inevitable deaths.

What happens next will be critical for the city and Australia as a whole. Other countries in the region are also closely monitoring whether Sydney can succeed in keeping the number of cases and deaths low enough to avoid overwhelming hospitals, while allowing business to resume and people to continue with their lives.


Breastfeeding May Help Protect Infants From Illness

Research has shown that most pregnant people who received Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines pass protective antibodies to their newborns through the placenta, and breastfeeding women could pass antibodies to their babies through breast milk.

However, more data is needed to determine the protection these antibodies can provide to the baby.


It turns out that the way options are presented to us, whether on restaurant menus or government forms, has a significant impact on the choices we make. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta delves into the science behind the nudge theory with former White House nudge expert Maya Shankar, and examines action that can help fight Covid-19. LISTEN NOW.