The creator of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine has urged pregnant women to get the vaccine after studies showed that this group made up almost a fifth of the UK’s most critically ill patients.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine inventors, said it is especially important for expectant mothers to be vaccinated, as transmission of the coronavirus during pregnancy can be particularly dangerous.
Speaking after feeding a eponymous penguin at Sea Life London Aquarium, Dame Sarah said: “It’s really important for pregnant women to get vaccinated.
“We now have a lot of evidence that it is safe for them, that it protects them and that Covid-19 is indeed dangerous in pregnancy.
“You don’t want to get yourself and your baby infected with Covid, so get the vaccine.
“There has been a lot of research into these vaccines, years of research.
“Before we knew about the coronavirus, we were working on ways to make vaccines.
“Now billions of doses have been given around the world, so there is so much evidence for their safety and effectiveness, and it’s really important that people continue to get vaccinated.
“For those who are called to have the booster: When it’s your turn, get the booster.”
This comes after NHS England found that 17% of Covid patients treated with a special lung bypass machine between 1 July and 30 September were expectant mothers who had not received their first dose of vaccine.
The NHS also said data shows that 32% of all women aged 16 to 49 years in intensive care in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are pregnant women – used when a patient’s lungs have been so damaged by Covid that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.