Covid vaccines are proving highly effective in pregnancy, according toa newly published studyin the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It has also found that mothers who have been vaccinated are passing on precious immunity to their newborns.
A group of researchers in Massachusetts studied pregnant women’s response to two approved mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/NIH. The women were vaccinated either during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and their ability to produce virus-specific antibodies was compared to that of vaccinated, non-pregnant women.
While the small number of women included in this study – 131 – is a limiting factor, it nonetheless provides very important early insight into the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. This matters, because new infectious diseases can come with all kinds of risks for women during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as in the neonatal phase. All of these risks need to be considered when making healthcare decisions related to pregnant women and, in particular, when considering vaccine strategies.
While there remains a lot that we don’t yet know about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies, there are some things we do know.
In early pregnancy, the virus is not associated with an increased chance of miscarriage. Vertical transmission – where the virus passes from the mother to the baby in the womb – is relatively rare. And babies seldom get sick.
We also know that, overall, pregnant women tend to have milder symptoms than the general population. However, they remain at greater risk of complications including placental inflammation and can become very ill. This in turn can lead to an increased likelihood of being admitted to intensive care and giving birth prematurely. As within the general population, pregnant women who are Black or Asian, as well as those who are obese, are at greater risk of severe COVID-19.
Now, of course, vaccination would prevent these outcomes. However, women are typically not included in any early vaccines trials if they’re pregnant. It is only now that data relating specifically to the response to the vaccine of pregnant and breast-feeding women are emerging. The work published in this paper is the first study to address this, making it incredibly valuable.
The Massachussets study focused on 84 pregnant women, 31 who were breast-feeding and 16 who were neither. The women each received two doses – what is known as prime and boost – of one of the vaccines. They had blood taken with each dose, and again up to six weeks after the second.
These blood samples were used to track the women’s antibody responses to the virus. The results were conclusive. All the women – both pregnant and breast-feeding – were found to have robust immunity, comparable to that of the non-pregnant women. And, this immunity increased with time, post-vaccination.
The researchers compared these findings with the antibody response in pregnant women who had contracted the virus naturally. This enabled them to show that the level of antibodies made in response to the vaccines far exceeded those made in response to natural infections.
One important reason to vaccinate pregnant women is so they can in turn provide their antibodies to the baby. This is known as passive immunity and it occurs when a mother is infected naturally or when she is vaccinated. The antibodies she produces are passed to her baby through the placenta or via breast milk. This affords the baby protection against infectious diseases it might come in contact with while its own immune system is still maturing. It is one of the reasons, for example, that pregnant women in many countries, including the UK, are encouraged to be vaccinated for flu and whooping cough.
When the babies in the study were delivered, the researchers studied blood samples from their umbilical cords. They found virus-specific antibodies in every sample. This shows that vaccinated mothers are passing antibodies to their babies through the placenta, in keeping with what we know from studies in natural infection. They also found virus-specific antibodies in breast milk from the women who were breastfeeding when vaccinated, which means that passive immunity is taking place via this route as well.
The investigators in this study were also able to provide some insight into when in pregnancy might be the best time to vaccinate pregnant women. Vaccinating women in different trimesters of their pregnancies did not affect antibody levels. This suggests that women can make a robust response to the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
In contrast, the analysis of umbilical cord blood shows that the second dose of a vaccine is important for maximising passive immunity for the baby. The lowest levels of antibodies in the umbilical cord samples came from a woman who delivered her baby before the second dose. The ability of the antibody to stop the entry of the virus into cells and cause infection also seems to need the boost dose. This suggests that having both doses before giving birth is critical to ensuring the baby gets the most protection possible.
There have been recent calls for pregnant women to be included at the early stages of vaccine trials, in order to limit delays in protecting them and their newborns. This study supports those calls.
It also highlights important next steps. Larger studies are needed to investigate when the best time in pregnancy is to vaccinate. These should include more detailed analysis of how the mothers respond to the vaccine at different stages of pregnancy, whether the vaccine prevents placental inflammation and preterm birth, and what effects this timing might have for passive immunity in newborns.
It points to other important questions too. How effective is the immunity transferred to the infant? And how long-lived is vaccine-induced viral immunity in the mother when the vaccination is made during pregnancy? We will need more studies to answer these questions.
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
New data from the BC Centre for Disease control shows that the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 has grown to nearly four in 10 cases in the province, up from fewer than one in 10 just two weeks before.
The data comes as the province reported more than 100 new cases in a 24-hour period for the first time in five weeks.
The BCCDC released the data Friday, which covers the week of July 11 to July 15.
B.C. reports 112 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths
Out of 376 cases recorded that week, the Delta variant, first identified in India, made up 39 per cent of cases, while the Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, made up 40 per cent. The Alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., made up 17 per cent of cases.
Last week, the BCCDC reported the Delta variant made up 33 per cent of cases, while the week before it was just eight per cent.
Research has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant, but only when people receive both doses.
Partially vaccinated people remain at a much greater risk of contracting it or becoming seriously ill.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday that 96 per cent of new cases reported in B.C. between June15 and July 15 were among people who weren’t fully vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 2.68 million people — 58.1 per cent of those eligible and 52.2 per cent of the population — have been fully vaccinated.
Could Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination drive slowdown fuel another surge?
There were strong regional variances in the prevalence of Delta.
In the Vancouver Island Health Region, all of the 14 cases reported over the week in question were found to be the Delta variant.
In the Interior Health Region, which has seen growing case numbers and lagging vaccination rates, Delta made up a whopping 74 per cent of the 122 cases over the week reported.
More than half of the new cases reported on Friday were in the Interior Health region.
Vancouver Coastal Health had the second highest prevalence of Delta, at 33 per cent, followed by the Fraser Health region at 15 per cent.
Officials said 97 per cent of all samples tested were at least one of the known variants of concern.
The BCCDC cautions that the data reported on Friday is subject to change due to a lag in sequencing some samples.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 in Ottawa: Fast Facts for July 24, 2021 – CTV Edmonton
Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa continues to creep up as vaccination slows
- A new outbreak in Barry’s Bay has led to nearly two-dozen close contacts and forced businesses to close
- Ontario reported 192 new cases on Friday as the seven-day average jumped slightly
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa (Ottawa Public Health data):
- New COVID-19 cases: Seven new cases on Friday
- Total COVID-19 cases: 27,768
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 3.9
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 0.5 per cent (seven day average)
- Reproduction Number: 1.28 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says you can get a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, care clinic, or community testing site if any of the following apply to you:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms;
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health;
- You are a resident, a worker or a visitor to long-term care, retirement homes, homeless shelters or other congregate settings (for example: group homes, community supported living, disability-specific communities or congregate settings, short-term rehab, hospices and other shelters);
- You are a person who identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis;
- You are a person travelling to work in a remote First Nations, Inuit or Métis community;
- You received a preliminary positive result through rapid testing;
- You require testing 72 hours before a scheduled (non-urgent or emergent) surgery (as recommended by your health care provider);
- You are a patient and/or their 1 accompanying escort travelling out of country for medical treatment;
- You are an international student that has passed their 14-day quarantine period;
- You are a farm worker;
- You are an educator who cannot access pharmacy-testing; or
- You are in a targeted testing group as outlined in guidance from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
There are several sites for COVID-19 testing in Ottawa. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
- The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre (Kemptville) – 15 Campus Drive: Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm.
- Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday
COVID-19 screening tool:
The COVID-19 screening tool for summer camp children and staff. All campers and staff must complete the COVID-19 School and Childcare screening tool daily.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.
Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.
It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.
A new outbreak of COVID-19 in Barry’s Bay, Ont. has resulted in two closed businesses and nearly two-dozen high-risk contacts.
The Renfrew County health unit is reporting three new confirmed cases that started with a visit from southern Ontario.
Twenty-one high-risk contacts now have to isolate, a fresh example that Canada is not yet out of the pandemic.
Ontario is reporting another jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases as health officials log just over 190 new infections and the seven-day average rises.
The province confirmed 192 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, which comes after officials logged 185 new infections on Thursday.
Before that, the province reported case numbers below the 150 mark for three days.
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