New Government figures show double-jabbed pregnant women are 83% less likely to be admitted to hospital than those who are unvaccinated. However, as planned pregnancies look set to rise, new Omicron-specific jabs are urgently needed to maintain vital protection, argues a leading Covid-testing expert.
New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal double-vaccinated pregnant women were considerably less likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-related health problems during their pregnancy than unvaccinated mums-to-be.
Compared with those who were unvaccinated, the rate of Covid-19 hospitalisation was 83% lower for double-vaccinated pregnant women. However, the leading testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says ensuring pregnant women are among the first to be vaccinated with Omicron-tailored top-up jabs is the only way to continue this success.
Says Dr Fivelman: ‘It’s encouraging to see just how effective vaccinations have been in ensuring women avoid any serious Covid-related complications while pregnant. The risk of being admitted to hospital was 83% lower for double-jabbed women, after adjusting for factors related to vaccine uptake.
‘It’s particularly significant that the reduction in risk of Covid-related hospital admissions was far greater for double-vaccinated women, compared to not only unvaccinated but also single-vaccinated pregnant women.
‘However, although these are the latest official figures, released just this week, a closer analysis reveals they only take us as far as the end of August 2021. The predominant Covid variant at that time was Delta. Its symptoms were frequently more severe than the latest Omicron variants appear to be, but the current Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains are far more contagious than previous versions and can still cause serious illness. That increases the chances of women catching the virus during pregnancy and potentially experiencing severe symptoms, especially if they are still unvaccinated.
‘This is particularly concerning as London Medical Laboratory has recently seen a 21% jump in the number of women taking fertility tests. This reflects other data showing pregnancy rates are rising, following a drop at the height of the pandemic. With more women conceiving or planning to have children soon, there is an increased risk of the latest Omicron variants impacting on their pregnancies. Omicron BA.5 is growing 35.1% faster than even Omicron BA.2, which is alarming.
‘Steve Barclay, the new man at the top of the Department of Health and Social Care, must act quickly to secure stocks of new Omicron-specific vaccines. Both Pfizer and Moderna have been testing retooled versions of their vaccines to include the Omicron variant. Pregnant women and women planning a family should be placed high on the list of those eligible for the new top-up jabs as soon as they become available.
‘With more women looking to become pregnant, it’s also important to ensure they are in the best of health to boost fertility. This will help them fight the impact of any infections during pregnancy. A hormone and fertility blood test will measure levels of key hormones such as: Oestradiol, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Prolactin.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s own new-generation Fertility Hormones Profile blood test is highly accurate, and quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test. It takes around five minutes, with results usually emailed the next day.