PREGNANT women who have not been dragooned into having a Covid jab must have been terrified by the headlines in many newspapers last Monday. A typical one read: ‘Pregnant women who have not had vaccine make up a FIFTH of the most ill Covid patients in intensive care, figures show’.
It makes it sound like one in five unvaccinated pregnant women are in intensive care – but it’s not true. It’s a cynical misrepresentation of the figures, presumably to scare women into taking the experimental vaccines.
Pregnant women are the minority of patients on ICU. The number of non-pregnant patients dying with a Covid diagnosis on ICU is ten times higher, and more of that cohort are likely to have been vaccinated. And what none of the news stories discussed was the risk to pregnant women who take the vaccine. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the government drugs watchdog, list 28 deaths in their pregnancy section which include miscarriages, foetal deaths and stillbirths post vaccination between August 26 and October 14, but do not make it clear whether the mother died alongside her baby. Currently, at least 480,000 women are pregnant and on October 8, there were only 14 pregnant women on ICU from a total of 890 male and female patients. That has now dropped to 13 (p 43). ICNARC_COVID-19_Report_2021-10-15.pdf.pdf Pregnant women in the 16 to 49 age range account for just 1.6 per cent of all patients in intensive care.
Respiratory problems and failure have always been the most common cause for pregnant women to need admission to ICU and pre-Covid more than 1 in 5 pregnant women on ICU were there for pneumonia. Historically, many pneumonias will have been due to influenza but more recently have been caused by Covid.
The data released by the NHS last week relate to pregnant women who have tested positive for Covid and are being supported by a machine bypassing their lungs which are too damaged by the disease to breathe. The extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine makes sure their blood is oxygenated and enables the body’s cells and organs to function properly.
The truth is that since July there have been 118 patients who needed an ECMO but only 20 were pregnant, less than a fifth. Of the 20 who were pregnant, 19 were recorded as unvaccinated. There have been no Covid patients supported by ECMO machines for the last two weeks (p 60).
There are more explanations for the figures. According to Dr Clare Craig, a member of HART Group (Health Advisory & Recovery Team), a group of highly qualified UK doctors, scientists and academics: ‘There are very few of these machines in the country. [Last reported figure was 15.] Prioritising pregnant women for such therapy would be a reasonable approach so the proportion receiving this care would not necessarily reflect the proportion of pregnant women who were sick on intensive care.’
The number of pregnant women who have died, according to official figures (Table 9, p 42) from the Intensive Care Audit National Research Centre (ICNARC), is minuscule compared to the total of 16- to 49-year-old deaths. From May 1 to October 8 this year, three pregnant women died (1.4 per cent), five recently pregnant women had died (2.9 per cent) compared with 127 women who were not pregnant (13.9 per cent). Since September 2020 only six pregnant women on ICU have died and 16 if you include recently pregnant women.
These figures clearly show that a minority of pregnant women end up on ICU.
Dr Craig said: ‘The mortality rate among pregnant women is one tenth of that of non-pregnant women aged 16-49 years.
‘Pregnancy comes with a small amount of risk which is illustrated by the pre-Covid figures. Around 300 pregnant women a year were admitted to ICU from about 640,000 births. This is about 1 in 2,000. A further 1,400 women who had recently been pregnant were also admitted per year. Together, these made up 14 per cent of intensive care admissions for all women aged 16-49 years of age. The admission rate since Covid had increased to 1 in 1,500 pregnant women compared with 1 in 4,000 non-pregnant women of childbearing age.
‘Last year, 1 in 3 of those who tested positive were asymptomatic and the number of positive PCR results are disproportionately high for women of childbearing age who are much more likely to be tested routinely as part of their antenatal care.
‘Other conditions have similar symptoms to Covid. There are 200 viruses that can cause a common cold which can also present with a cough. Pre-eclampsia symptoms include a severe headache and pain under the ribs. Testing on admission and repeated testing on ICU, in an environment where SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be present, can result in overdiagnosis.’
No one has escaped the effects of Covid completely, not even pregnant women. Dr Craig said: ‘Overall, deaths in women of childbearing age rose in spring and winter 2020 but have been at expected levels since.
‘So, to stress again, the risk of dying on ICU with a Covid diagnosis is ten times higher in the non-pregnant population, more of whom are likely to have been vaccinated.’
No Covid drug manufacturer has released details of studies into pregnant women receiving the vaccine, which means all information relating to expectant mothers is speculation. Pfizer do not complete theirs until December 2021.
The NHS say that the data comes from over 100,000 Covid vaccinations in pregnancy in England and Scotland, and a further 160,000 in the US – culled from the American V-Safe app, a self-reporting system for women who found themselves pregnant after taking the jab. None of the data are available to be scrutinised and neither set constitute a scientific study. However, Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: ‘We do understand women’s concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, and we want to reassure women that there is no link between having the vaccine and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth.’
An obstetrics and gynaecology doctor, who advises the UK Medical Freedom Alliance, a team of medical professionals, academics, scientists, and lawyers; said: ‘These numbers are so far from good science that we could be put on notice of liability if something goes wrong with a mother’s pregnancy because of the vaccine.’
Data from Public Health England showed that more than 81,000 pregnant women have received the first dose of the Covid jab, and around 65,000 have had their second.
Pregnant women were first offered the vaccine in December 2020, if they were health or care workers or in an at-risk group. Since April 2021, pregnant women have been offered the vaccine as part of the standard age-based rollout of the vaccination programme. No births in pregnant women from the April cohort who received the vaccine will have been completed until January 2022. So there is no way to know how vaccinated pregnant women, who had the vaccine in their first trimester, will fare until then, and we only have limited data from women vaccinated in the second and third trimester.