Many pregnant women have been hesitant to get the vaccine despite FDA approval.
GALVESTON, Texas – The Delta variant of COVID-19 causes more severe disease in pregnancy than prior variants, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch found.
A research letter from UTMB’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the official journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, describes the outcome of COVID in pregnant patients from March 2021 to August 2021, during the fourth wave when the Delta variant was responsible for the majority of infections. Researchers compared these patients to a COVID cohort group from 2020.
The UTMB study emphasizes the seriousness of the Delta variant in pregnant patients. While FDA- approved COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be highly effective against the Delta variant, many pregnant women have been hesitant to get the vaccine.
Pregnant patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the fourth wave had a lower median gestational age at the time of diagnosis or symptom onset and were more likely to be symptomatic, the researchers found.
The letter stresses the need to increase vaccination of pregnant and reproductive-aged individuals, researchers said.
“This severity of cases was not observed in the prior waves of the pandemic,” said Dr. Antonio Saad, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UTMB and the corresponding author of the letter. “We as providers and an institution should emphasize the importance of vaccination in pregnant women where hesitancy to receive the vaccine is high. Several studies have reiterated the safety of COVID vaccines in pregnancy. Vaccination is the cornerstone for control of the pandemic.”