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CDC: Over 40% Of Covid Deaths In Pregnant People Came During Delta Wave

More than 40% of all Covid-19-related deaths in pregnant people occurred from August to November — after the Delta variant took hold.

As the number of Delta variant Covid-19 cases rose in the United States over the summer, so too did Covid-19 deaths among pregnant people. New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown Covid-19 deaths among pregnant people jumped significantly in August, September, and October. In fact, the CDC’s most recent report reveals that more than 40% of Covid-19 deaths in pregnant people are reported to have occurred after Delta became the dominant variant in the United States.

According to the CDC, 249 pregnant people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began in January 2020. At least 102 of those deaths, or just under 41%, occurred between August and November, a time when the Delta variant was known to have caused a surge in cases across the country. Previous data modeling from the CDC estimated the Delta variant became the dominant strain of Covid-19 in the United States over a two-week period that ended on July 3.

While Covid-19 deaths among pregnant people remained relatively low in July, they spiked significantly in August, jumping from nine deaths to 40. Covid-19 deaths among pregnant people remained high in September when 34 deaths were reported, and in October, when 21 deaths were reported. In November, Covid-19 deaths among pregnant people fell to eight.

“It’s just shocking,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News of August’s recorded deaths. “I can tell you, when I hear about a pregnant woman in the community who is not vaccinated, I personally pick up the phone and talk to them.”

After Covid-19-related deaths in pregnant people reached a record high in August, the CDC upped their efforts to encourage vaccination among pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. A strongly-worded plea issued by the agency in September urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 either before or during pregnancy, noting “symptomatic pregnant people have more than a two-fold increased risk of requiring ICU admission, invasive ventilation, and ECMO, and a 70% increased risk of death.”

“Pregnant people with Covid-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth and some data suggest an increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia, coagulopathy, and stillbirth, compared with pregnant people without Covid-19,” the agency said, noting just 31% of pregnant people were reported to be fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, at least 151,354 pregnant people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began. While the bulk of those cases occurred from late October 2020 to late January 2021, the country did begin to see a surge of cases among pregnant people over the summer. Cases among pregnant people have slowly begun to decline since topping out at 2,030 cases the week of Aug. 7.

In late November, a new Covid-19 variant was named by the World Health Organization (WHO). On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters the Omicron variant was spreading faster than any previous Covid-19 variant. “Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant,” CNBC reported Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “Seventy-seven countries have now reported cases of omicron. And the reality is that omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet.”

But while the Omicron variant is reported to be spreading fast, it’s unclear if it is more deadly than earlier strains of the virus or if it puts pregnant people at greater risk as the Delta variant may have done.