A large number of pregnant women and those who recently delivered their baby have died in the second wave of Covid, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research has revealed. The scientists said the study underscored the importance of vaccination for both pregnant and lactating women.
None of the vaccines available in India have been tested on pregnant women, who are customarily excluded from any clinical trial. The National Technical Group on Immunisation has recommended that a choice be given to pregnant women pre-delivery. But the government, which recently allowed vaccination for lactating women on the NTAGI recommendation, is yet to lift the bar for pregnant women.
The study was done both for the first and second waves of Covid. It was conducted on 1,530 women -- some pregnant and others immediately after giving birth. Of them, 1,143 were infected in the first wave and the rest in the second, data showed.
In the first wave, symptomatic cases were 14.2 per cent, while in the second wave it increased to 28.7 per cent, the results showed. But the scientists observed a jump in the mortality rate -- 5.7 per cent, up from 0.7 per cent in the first wave.
Twenty-two of 387 women died in the second wave, compared to the first wave, when 30 of 1530 women died. The majority of deaths were due to Covid-19 pneumonia and respiratory failure, the scientists found.
Maternal death was 2 per cent in both waves.
The government has recently allowed vaccination for lactating mothers.
Healthcare experts have stressed on the need to permit vaccination of even pregnant women to protect them from the infection, but the government has not allowed it in absence of clinical trial data.