A comparative study of two Covid-19 waves in India showed that the symptomatic cases of Covid-19 were significantly higher at 28.7 percent among pregnant and post-partum women during the second wave against 14.2 percent in the first wave. The fatality rate among pregnant women was higher at 5.7 percent in the second wave, as compared to 0.7 percent in the first wave, the study by ICMR revealed.
According to a report by Times of India, the study emphasized on the importance of vaccination among pregnant and lactating women. However, the government hasn’t yet allowed vaccination of such women due to a lack of data of clinical trials. Overall, 2% maternal deaths were estimated during both waves.
Meanwhile, a report last week had made a strong case for their vaccination on a priority basis. For Covid not to further aggravate the already heavy burden of maternal and under-five mortality, there is a strong case for the inclusion of pregnant women as a high priority group for vaccination, the report prepared by a group of doctors led by Yamini Sarwal of Delhi-based Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital said. “We recommend including Covid-19 vaccination in the routine protocol for antenatal care in all countries, particularly India and Indonesia, in view of their high dual burden," the report had stated.
Currently, either pregnant women are not included for vaccination, or the policies are ambiguous with the decision being often left to the woman, the report said. Evidence is emerging of the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccination, which along with benefits of passing on the protection to the newborn, call for including pregnant women in the high priority group for vaccination, it said.
Observing that pregnant women are known to be at significantly higher risk for severe coronavirus-related complications compared with non-pregnant women, it said, the issue of protecting such women is critical. Vaccination has emerged as a reliable protective measure against severe Covid-19 infection, the report noted. Of the top 20 Covid affected countries, nine allow vaccination of pregnant women, of which two preferentially vaccinate them. In contrast, four of the 20 high under-five mortality countries allow vaccination of pregnant women, while none include them in the preferential group. India and Indonesia, with one-fifth of world’s population, fall in both groups but do not include pregnant women for vaccination.
However, the government is yet to take a final decision on vaccinating pregnant women against Covid-19.
(With inputs from PTI)