Pregnant women are more likely to catch the coronavirus, and are more vulnerable to its symptoms, healthcare professionals warn. According to virologist Miklós Rusvai, 20 pregnant women infected with Covid are receiving intensive care and oxygen treatment, at least four of them are on ventilators.
Rusvai told RTL News that while the coronavirus does not, in theory, infect the fetus, it can be very detrimental to the mother’s health. Rusvai said that “unfortunately a high fever can impact a mother the same way an abortion would.”
Countries such as Israel and the United States are already vaccinating pregnant women against Covid, and many Hungarian medical professionals are suggesting the government to begin doing the same.
Covid Mutation More Severe for Pregnant Women
Ferenc Falus, Hungary’s former chief medical officer, told ATV News that the new mutation is responsible for the increased risk pregnant women face, and that it should be a priority that all pregnant women by vaccinated.
Now that 17 thousand people have fallen victim to the pandemic, the protection and vaccination of expectant women should be a priority.”
According to the Assisted Reproduction Department of Semmelweis University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic, risks of infection during pregnancy are much higher than normal.
János Zádori, chief obstetrician-gynecologist of the Kaál Institute in Szeged, stated in an interview with KOVIDők that “the infection happens without symptoms in many pregnant women. For expectant mothers with symptoms, the course of the disease is much more severe than older, non-pregnant women.”
A study by JAMA Network found that pregnant people with severe or critical cases of Covid have a higher risk of cesarean delivery, post-partum hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and preterm birth.
They are also more likely to be hospitalized and require intensive care and ventilation.
Greater Risk for Mothers, Less so for Newborns?
János Szlávik, senior infectologist of the South-Pest Central Hospital, told President János Áder last November that the virus is not dangerous for newborns. On the president’s Blue Planet podcast, Szlávik said that it is rare for newborns to be infected, but even if they are, they do not show serious symptoms.
Szlávik emphasized that “Infection by the virus does not cause fetal harm, but it can cause noticeable symptoms in expectant women, such as fever, lung infection, and it can cause premature births or miscarriages.”
Still, there are suggestions that children born from mothers with Covid should be paid attention to, since other viruses have been known to impact newborns, causing depression and autism.
The Vaccine’s Impact Pregnant Women and Newborns
The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a study of 1470 placentas of women who had recovered from the virus. They found that 83 contained the antibodies necessary for protection against the coronavirus, concluding that the vaccine protects fetuses as well.
The organization does not see any significant risks in the vaccination of pregnant women, but because of missing data, it does not openly support or oppose their inoculation.
In Southern Florida, one baby was born already possessing the antibodies used to protect the immune system against the virus, three weeks after her mother was vaccinated.
This child is among the first newborns to have some level of immunity to Covid.
Christopher Golden of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore warned mothers not to assume that their children are immune, however, since it is still unknown how much the vaccine impacts the child, how many antibodies it gives them, and how long their immunity lasts.
Gov’t Considering Change in Protocol
Rector of Semmelweis University Béla Merkely told M1 that many pregnant women infected with Covid have arrived at the university’s clinic. He also said that there is certainty around the safety of select vaccines to be used on expectant mothers.
Merkely said that the heads of gynecology departments at four medical universities, along with their colleagues, suggest that Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca be available for the inoculation of pregnant women in their second and third trimester.
Thankfully, the government has already begun considering the issue.
Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás stated in his most recent press conference that a joint professional resolution is being prepared regarding the inoculation of pregnant women.
Gulyás said that Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller will share the results of the government’s decision in the coming days.
Featured photo illustration by Péter Komka/MTI