Echoing guidance by the CDC, England’s National Health Service (NHS England) on October 11 encouraged pregnant people to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 and released data showing that, since July, nearly 1 in 5 of England’s most critically ill COVID-19 patients—those who required intensive care unit support including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)—have been unvaccinated pregnant women. Notably, of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 who have required ECMO in an intensive care unit, 32% of them have been pregnant, up from 6% at the beginning of the pandemic. NHS England is working to dispel misinformation and fears surrounding SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, pointing to safety data showing the shots are safe for pregnant individuals and their fetuses.
According to data from the CDC, COVID-19 poses a significantly higher risk to pregnant people compared with non-pregnant people. Several other recently released studies suggest that pregnant people with symptomatic COVID-19 are at a higher risk of emergency complications and other adverse perinatal and neonatal outcomes. A not-yet-peer-reviewed study presented over the weekend at the Anesthesiology 2021 Annual Meeting and a peer-reviewed study published October 10 in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine showed that pregnant people with COVID-19 who were symptomatic had an increased risk of giving birth in emergency circumstances and were more likely to have complications endangering their newborns, compared with those who had asymptomatic COVID-19 or who were not infected. Researchers writing in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the recent surge of the Delta variant was associated with increased morbidity among pregnant people with COVID-19, particularly in underserved populations with low vaccine acceptance, prompting them to highlight the urgency of preventive measures during pregnancy, including vaccination.
Additionally, experts attending the recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) virtual meeting discussed neonatal outcomes, an apparent increase in preterm birth incidence among infected pregnant people compared with the 2019 incidence, as well as higher-than-expected maternal mortality among pregnant people testing positive at or around the day of delivery. All of the studies support emerging trends showing that COVID-19 can severely impact pregnant people and neonates, and provide evidence that vaccination is critically important for this population.
In the U.S., more than 713,000 people have died from the COVID-19 virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That burden of death has led to a severe drop in aggregate life expectancy. According to a recent microsimulation study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaved more than nine million years off aggregate life expectancy in the U.S. This dramatic increase in Years of Life Lost (YLL) is also explained in a June 21 BMJ article describing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy.
CSSE is reporting 44,603,323 positive cases in the U.S. and 717,598 deaths.