A version of this story appeared in the April 22 edition of CNN's Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
(CNN)The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines don't appear to pose any serious risks during pregnancy, an early analysis of real-world data from the United States shows.
The early findings may offer some reassurance to pregnant people in the US and help other countries make better informed decisions about how to include them in vaccination programs. The analysis only looked at Pfizer and Moderna shots, which are both based on newer mRNA technology, so the findings are not relevant to vaccines such as those made by AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had long advised that while there was a lack of data in this area, pregnant people should still be offered Covid-19 shots, stressing that they are "unlikely to pose a specific risk" for people who are pregnant. Some other countries have excluded pregnant people from their programs. The UK recently reversed its stance on the issue and is now making Pfizer and Moderna shots available to people who are pregnant.
Health authorities around the world, including the CDC, have warned that pregnant women with Covid-19 are at increased risk for severe illness and may be at increased risk for adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. The new data, along with existing research showing mRNA vaccines are effective in pregnant and breastfeeding people, suggest that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks.
The analysis, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at the data of more than 35,000 pregnant people who had reported their health status through CDC reporting systems, including a smartphone app, and followed up with a group of 3,958 pregnant participants who had received an mRNA vaccine. It found that adverse outcomes, including pregnancy loss and preterm births, were not significantly higher in people who had been given a vaccine.
And in more good news, the study found that vaccine recipients who were pregnant actually experienced common post-inoculation symptoms less frequently, including headache, muscle aches, chills and fever. The most common side effect was pain at the injection site, which appeared to occur more frequently in people who were pregnant.
The researchers say more long-term studies are needed to assess the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and that this research should include follow up with a large population who are vaccinated early in pregnancy.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. How can I stop my glasses from fogging up when I wear a mask?
A. It's a pesky problem: As soon as you put on your cloth face mask and head out the door, your glasses fog up. But there's a simple fix for that, and it'll only take a minute or two. All you need is soap and water. Read here for advice from the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, courtesy of two doctors. Their defogging trick works in the emergency room, so it can certainly work in the grocery store.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you're facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TODAY
J&J told to clean up its troubled Baltimore plant
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said new production of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine remains paused at the Emergent BioSolutions facility, where millions of potential doses were contaminated, and the agency and company are working through a list of potential quality issues.
Based on security camera footage and direct observation, the FDA issued a report saying that procedures to prevent cross-contamination weren't followed during production or documented; components and product containers were not handled or stored in a way to prevent contamination; procedures to assure drug substances are manufactured at the appropriate quality, strength and purity were "inadequate"; and employees weren't properly trained.
The building used to manufacture the vaccine drug substance wasn't a suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning and proper operations, it said, also noting peeling paint, unsealed bags of medical waste, residue on walls and damaged floors and rough surfaces that "do not allow for adequate cleaning and sanitization." Emergent said it was "committed to working with the FDA and Johnson & Johnson to quickly resolve the issues identified."
India breaks world record for biggest increase in daily cases
India recorded 314,835 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, marking the world's biggest daily increase since the pandemic began. The country also recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus-related deaths, at 2,104, pushing the total death toll up to 184,657.
The Indian capital, New Delhi, is facing a shortage of intensive care unit beds, Delhi's Health Minister Satyendra Jain told reporters on Thursday, adding the city had just 26 ICU beds vacant. The lack of oxygen supplies also remains a pressing problem.
"Yesterday, all night, there was a crisis. In many hospitals, oxygen was almost depleted, so we had to distribute a little bit among all of them. If the oxygen crisis ends in the next one or two days we will be able to increase the number of beds as well," he said.
Biden has reached his vaccination goal. The next step will be harder
Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his administration had hit its goal of getting at least 200 million vaccines in arms in his first 100 days, which comes next week, but as the President celebrates, experts are warning the next phase will be more difficult as a fifth of America says it will likely never accept a Covid-19 shot.
The Kaiser Family Foundation said in a report this week that the US is likely to reach a "tipping point" on vaccine enthusiasm in the next two to four weeks. "Once this happens, efforts to encourage vaccination will become much harder, presenting a challenge to reaching the levels of herd immunity that are expected to be needed."
The country needs around 75-80% of its population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, the President's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said. A slowing vaccine demand now, experts say, could give dangerous coronavirus variants the opportunity to continue to mutate, spread and trigger new surges -- and delay the country's return to a semblance of normalcy.
ON OUR RADAR
- Greece will gradually begin easing Covid-19 restrictions starting next month after the Greek Orthodox Easter. The country has lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers and those testing negative from key tourism markets.
- Black market traders in India are charging up to 10 times the recommended retail price for remdesivir amid a shortage of the antiviral drug. There's no evidence it works in reducing Covid-19 deaths.
- Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, has voted in favor of giving the federal government powers to impose nationwide lockdown measures against Covid-19.
- For fully vaccinated people, the risk of still getting Covid-19 -- described as "breakthrough infections" -- remains extremely low, a new study out of New York suggests.
- Spain will donate between 5% and 10% of its Covid-19 shots to Latin America and the Caribbean once half its population is inoculated.
TODAY'S TOP TIP
People have gotten so used to wearing masks, they've become something of a trendy accessory -- and one that can save your life. But instead of what pattern, logo or slogan you display, choose your mask based on its effectiveness against the deadly coronavirus in the environment you are in.
Guidelines on how to help you make that choice should be out by mid-spring, according to Jonathan Szalajda, deputy director at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, which is part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the CDC. But for now, here's a breakdown of respirators and masks based on current scientific knowledge, and what experts are saying on how to best use them.
"We can't do this alone. There's no one individual who's going to be able to save us, no matter how hard they try. And so, the same is true with climate change." — Kim Cobb, PhD, climate scientist at Georgia Tech
Shifts in our behavior during the pandemic have impacted the planet, but will these changes last? On Earth Day, CNN climate reporter Drew Kann talks with Cobb about the connection between Covid-19 and climate change, and how we can keep up our green habits even after the pandemic is over. Listen now.