An increasing number of pregnant women in Alberta are winding up in emergency rooms and intensive care units suffering from COVID-19.
The hospitalizations come as Delta variant case rates surge province-wide.
According to University of Calgary researchers who have collected data on COVID-19 infection among pregnant women, there have been 900 new COVID-19 cases in pregnant people since April and the case rate is rising rapidly.
New infections have risen from an average of four per week in July to 25 cases in the past week alone.
Of those, 14 pregnant women required a trip to the emergency room and two are presently in ICU with the COVID-19 Delta variant, including one woman who is on a ventilator.
Researchers say some of these mothers passed COVID-19 to their newborns, and some of those babies had to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Dr. Eliana Castillo of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute maintains that each of these events was preventable.
“Pregnant people have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Alberta since early 2021,” explained Dr. Castillo. “We have strong evidence from the over 100,000 pregnant people vaccinated against COVID-19 that the vaccines are safe and provide good protection for both mother and baby.”
While full immunization data on pregnant women experiencing severe COVID-19 illness during the fourth wave is not yet known, researchers say those pregnant women who got sick and contracted COVID-19 in the third wave had not received the shot.
Researchers say many pregnant women are hesitant about vaccines, citing the safety concerns for both themselves and their babies.
Alberta’s current wave of COVID-19 cases is being driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which is now the dominant strain across the province and substantially more contagious than previous variants of the disease.
The Delta variant is spreading primarily among those who remain unvaccinated and is the cause of the most severe COVID-19 related illnesses in Alberta.
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