In its latest ‘2022 INTERCOVID Study’ conducted in 41 hospitals across 18 countries, including the Aga Khan University Hospital in Pakistan, the global network led by the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute (OMPHI) at the University of Oxford has cited that pregnant women who were vaccinated, were well protected against severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications and had a very low risk of admission to an intensive care unit.
The study evaluated the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant on maternal and neonatal outcomes and the efficacy of vaccination to reduce the associated risks. The researchers studied 1,545 pregnant women diagnosed with the variant and 3,073 non-diagnosed, concomitant pregnant women as controls. The in-depth research found out that although Omicron variant is associated with several severe risks for pregnant women, adequate vaccination dosage can limit its risks. In the study, the mRNA vaccines were most effective in preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications, although viral vector vaccines with a booster also provided adequate protection.
The Aga Khan University’s faculty Dr. Shabina Ariff and Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta are co-authors of the Lancet paper that contributed to the evidence with 243 local pregnant women from Pakistan and established concrete evidence of vaccine effectiveness globally.
Highlighting the importance of vaccination coverage among pregnant women, Professor José Villar, Professor of Perinatal Medicine at the University of Oxford, who co-led INTERCOVID 2022, said “We have provided robust, evidence-based information on the increased risk of the COVID-19 Omicron variant during pregnancy for severe maternal complications among symptomatic and unvaccinated women. Of concern is that severe symptoms of the disease occurred in 4% to 7% of unvaccinated women diagnosed with the COVID-19 Omicron variant during pregnancy. The study clearly indicates the need for a complete vaccination course during pregnancy, preferably with a booster, to provide protection for at least 10 months after the last dose. Antenatal services worldwide should strive to include vaccination against COVID-19 in the routine care of pregnant women.”
The study has concluded that prevention of severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications requires women to be completely vaccinated, preferably with a booster dose as well.