The early findings may offer some reassurance to pregnant people in the US and help other countries make better informed decisions about how to include them in vaccination programs. The analysis only looked at Pfizer and Moderna shots, which are both based on newer mRNA technology, so the findings are not relevant to vaccines such as those made by AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
Health authorities around the world, including the CDC, have warned that pregnant women with Covid-19 are at increased risk for severe illness and may be at increased risk for adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. The new data, along with existing research showing mRNA vaccines are effective in pregnant and breastfeeding people, suggest that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks.
And in more good news, the study found that vaccine recipients who were pregnant actually experienced common post-inoculation symptoms less frequently, including headache, muscle aches, chills and fever. The most common side effect was pain at the injection site, which appeared to occur more frequently in people who were pregnant.
The researchers say more long-term studies are needed to assess the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and that this research should include follow up with a large population who are vaccinated early in pregnancy.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
J&J told to clean up its troubled Baltimore plant
Based on security camera footage and direct observation, the FDA issued a report saying that procedures to prevent cross-contamination weren’t followed during production or documented; components and product containers were not handled or stored in a way to prevent contamination; procedures to assure drug substances are manufactured at the appropriate quality, strength and purity were “inadequate”; and employees weren’t properly trained.
The building used to manufacture the vaccine drug substance wasn’t a suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning and proper operations, it said, also noting peeling paint, unsealed bags of medical waste, residue on walls and damaged floors and rough surfaces that “do not allow for adequate cleaning and sanitization.” Emergent said it was “committed to working with the FDA and Johnson & Johnson to quickly resolve the issues identified.”
India breaks world record for biggest increase in daily cases
The Indian capital, New Delhi, is facing a shortage of intensive care unit beds, Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain told reporters on Thursday, adding the city had just 26 ICU beds vacant. The lack of oxygen supplies also remains a pressing problem.
“Yesterday, all night, there was a crisis. In many hospitals, oxygen was almost depleted, so we had to distribute a little bit among all of them. If the oxygen crisis ends in the next one or two days we will be able to increase the number of beds as well,” he said.
Biden has reached his vaccination goal. The next step will be harder
The Kaiser Family Foundation said in a report this week that the US is likely to reach a “tipping point” on vaccine enthusiasm in the next two to four weeks. “Once this happens, efforts to encourage vaccination will become much harder, presenting a challenge to reaching the levels of herd immunity that are expected to be needed.”
The country needs around 75-80% of its population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, the President’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said. A slowing vaccine demand now, experts say, could give dangerous coronavirus variants the opportunity to continue to mutate, spread and trigger new surges — and delay the country’s return to a semblance of normalcy.
ON OUR RADAR
- Greece will gradually begin easing Covid-19 restrictions starting next month after the Greek Orthodox Easter. The country has lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers and those testing negative from key tourism markets.
- Black market traders in India are charging up to 10 times the recommended retail price for remdesivir amid a shortage of the antiviral drug. There’s no evidence it works in reducing Covid-19 deaths.
- Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, has voted in favor of giving the federal government powers to impose nationwide lockdown measures against Covid-19.
- For fully vaccinated people, the risk of still getting Covid-19 — described as “breakthrough infections” — remains extremely low, a new study out of New York suggests.
- Spain will donate between 5% and 10% of its Covid-19 shots to Latin America and the Caribbean once half its population is inoculated.
TODAY’S TOP TIP
People have gotten so used to wearing masks, they’ve become something of a trendy accessory — and one that can save your life. But instead of what pattern, logo or slogan you display, choose your mask based on its effectiveness against the deadly coronavirus in the environment you are in.
“We can’t do this alone. There’s no one individual who’s going to be able to save us, no matter how hard they try. And so, the same is true with climate change.” — Kim Cobb, PhD, climate scientist at Georgia Tech