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Impact of SARS-CoV-2 variant on the severity of maternal infection and perinatal outcomes: Data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System national cohort.

By Nicola Vousden, Rema Ramakrishnan, Kathryn Bunch, Edward Morris, Nigel Simpson, Christopher Gale, Patrick O'Brien, Maria Quigley, Peter Brocklehurst, Jennifer J Kurinczuk, Marian Knight

Posted 25 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.22.21261000

Background In the UK, the Alpha variant of SARS-CoV-2 became dominant in late 2020, rapidly succeeded by the Delta variant in May 2021. The aim of this study was to compare the impact of these variants on severity of maternal infection and perinatal outcomes within the time-periods in which they predominated. Methods This national, prospective cohort study collated data on hospitalised pregnant women with symptoms of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and compared the severity of infection and perinatal outcomes across the Wildtype (01/03/20-30/11/20), Alpha (01/12/20-15/05/21) and Delta dominant periods (16/05/21-11/07/21), using multivariable logistic regression. Findings Of 3371 pregnant women, the proportion that experienced moderate to severe infection significantly increased between Wildtype and Alpha periods (24.4% vs. 35.8%; aOR1.75 95%CI 1.48-2.06), and between Alpha and Delta periods (35.8% vs. 45.0%; aOR1.53, 95%CI 1.07-2.17). Compared to the Wildtype period, symptomatic women admitted in the Alpha period were more likely to require respiratory support (27.2% vs. 20.3%, aOR1.39, 95%CI 1.13-1.78), have pneumonia (27.5% vs. 19.1%, aOR1.65, 95%CI 1.38-1.98) and be admitted to intensive care (11.3% vs. 7.7%, aOR1.61, 95%CI 1.24-2.10). Women admitted during the Delta period had further increased risk of pneumonia (36.8% vs. 27.5%, aOR1.64 95%CI 1.14-2.35). No fully vaccinated pregnant women were admitted between 01/02/2021 when vaccination data collection commenced and 11/07/2021. The proportion of women receiving pharmacological therapies for SARS-CoV-2 management was low, even in those critically ill. Interpretation SARS-CoV-2 infection during Alpha and Delta dominant periods was associated with more severe infection and worse pregnancy outcomes compared to the Wildtype infection, which itself increased risk compared to women without SARS-CoV-2 infection.1 Clinicians need to be aware and implement COVID-specific therapies in keeping with national guidance. Urgent action to tackle vaccine misinformation and policy change to prioritise uptake in pregnancy is essential. Funding National Institute for Health Research HS&DR Programme (11/46/12).

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