The number of pregnant women diagnosed with Covid-19 increased from 189 in the first wave to over 1,000 during the recent pandemic wave.
Pregnant women infected with Covid-19 are at increased risk of hospitalization, preterm birth, ICU admission, and death, according to the National Immunization Advisory Committee (Niac).
1,147 women over 6 weeks gestation were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last wave from November. A total of 131 of these were hospitalized and 19 required intensive care.
This is compared to a total of 189 Covid-positive pregnant women in the first wave from March to August 2020. According to figures released by the Ministry of Health to Herald, there are less than 5 cases in the intensive care unit.
Between August and November last year, there were 224 cases. Seventeen of these women were hospitalized and less than five were in the ICU.
Rotunda master Professor Fargal Malone said the increase in the country’s largest maternity hospital was “terrible”, but it is important to note the differences in virus variants.
However, he said the number of pregnant Covid-positive women in need of intensive care has increased and the number of patients currently receiving intensive care at Rotanda Hospital is higher than in the early stages of the pandemic.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve noticed an increase in pregnant patients who are quite ill,” he said.
Last week, the government accepted a recommendation from Nyack that mRNA vaccines should be provided to pregnant women between the 14th and 36th weeks of gestation.
Professor Malone said he “strongly supports” all pregnant women who are considering vaccination.
“The mother becomes very ill and there is a significant risk associated with Covid during pregnancy regarding the possibility of placentitis and stillbirth,” he said.
“They are real, we saw it over and over again.”
Nyack states that the epidemiology of Irish Covid-19 admission to intensive care units for pregnant and postpartum women “changed between the first and subsequent waves.”
“The overall risk of serious illness during pregnancy is low, but pregnant women with Covid-19 infection are more serious than pregnant women without Covid-19, or similar older non-pregnant women with Covid-19. You are more likely to develop a disease or die, “said Niac.
The figures released by the Ministry of Health outline that there were no reported deaths to pregnant or postpartum women.
However, there were seven cases of stillbirth associated with Covid placentitis.
Professor Malone said it was important to explain the “significant difference” between the waves in terms of the particular virus strains that were circulating at the time and the additional testing capabilities currently available.
“In the first wave, we know that it is more likely to be the Wuhan strain of the virus, not this third wave. The B117 or so-called UK variant is much more contagious,” said Professor Malone.
“But there were differences in the tests that were run. In reality, there was a challenge running the tests in the first wave. The test capacity wasn’t as great as it is now.
“So the third wave has increased, but I think it’s hard to conclude why.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve noticed an increase in the number of patients who are quite ill.”
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