The Chief Medical Officer said 98% of pregnant women severely ill or in intensive care were not vaccinated and “there have been deaths”
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Pregnant women have been urged to get a Covid jab as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty revealed his “major concern” as winter nears.
The top medic told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that over 98% of pregnant women severely ill or in ICUs had not been vaccinated.
Professor Whitty underlined the “stark facts” amid fears there will be a Covid surge this winter, while Boris Johnson warned of new wave” of the virus sweeping through central Europe.
The CMO said “there have been deaths” among pregnant women, as he urged women who are pregnant or wishing to get pregnant to get their vaccine.
“I would like to pull out in particular the issue of women who are pregnant or intending to get pregnant. And I would just like to give you some fairly stark facts about this because this is a major concern,” he said.
“Based on academic data from February 1 to September 30 … 1,714 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with Covid. Of those, 1,681, which is to say 98%, had not been vaccinated.
“And if you go to those who are very severely ill in intensive care, of 235 women admitted to ICU, 232 of them – over 98% – had not been vaccinated.
“These are preventable admissions to ICU and there have been deaths. All the medical opinion is really clear that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks in every area. This is a universal view among doctors and among the midwife advisory groups and among the scientific advisory groups.
“So can I please encourage all women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant to get their vaccination.”
Prof Whitty said “we’re beginning to see a winter respiratory effect” of other viruses impacting on the coronavirus pandemic.
“There has already been a very significant increase in eastern Europe which is still ongoing, with significant numbers of people dying, in particular among the unvaccinated.
“That has now moved westward and, as you can see, is now increasing significantly, also in many western European countries.
“We all knew – everywhere in Europe we knew – that as we went into winter, into the typical respiratory virus/flu season, that the risks would be greater, and I think this is a demonstration of the fact that we’re beginning to see a winter respiratory effect.”
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, has extended the booster programme to the over-40s in a bid to avoid a Christmas lockdown.
He told a press briefing: “Clearly we cannot rule anything out and the most important thing people can do to prevent further NPIs from being taken is to – non-pharmaceutical interventions that is, further restrictions – get the boosters.”
He added: “We don’t yet know the extent to which this new wave will sweep up on our shores but history shows that we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
“Those countries with lower vaccination rates have tended to see bigger surges in infection and in turn been forced to respond with harsher measures while those countries with higher vaccination rates have so far fared better.
“It shows us that if we want to control the epidemic here in the UK and if we want to avoid restrictions on our daily lives we must all get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible.”