At least three pregnant women that were recently hospitalized with coronavirus-related complications have contracted the British variant of the pathogen, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday evening.
Earlier it was reported that at least nine pregnant women are in serious condition after they were hospitalized with COVID-19, raising concerns about their own and their babies chances of survival.
At the request of Health Ministry's Head of Public Health Services Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, several samples from the women were sent to the ministry's Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where preliminary results of DNA sequencing showed presence of the mutation.
Meanwhile, healthcare providers announced Tuesday evening that the national COVID-19 vaccination drive will be soon expanded to include pregnant women.
Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) reported receiving many inquiries over the past day from women wishing to get vaccinated, as reports of COVID-positive expecting mothers being hospitalized in serious condition mounted.
The Health Ministry issued a statement stressing that the vaccine does not pose any threat to pregnant women.
"According to experts, there isn't a biological mechanism that could possibly harm the mother or the fetus," the statement read. "Women that received the vaccine without knowing they were pregnant did not report any abnormal effects during pregnancy compared to their counterparts that were not vaccinated."
Pregnant women were not previously included among the prioritized groups for the vaccine and could not set an appointment to get the shot. In the past, Health Ministry regulations have even banned giving the shot during pregnancy because it was not tested on pregnant women during clinical trials.
In the meantime, a 35-year-old, seven-months-pregnant woman was transferred to Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva earlier as doctors fight for her life. She had given birth by caesarean section and is now hospitalized in very serious condition. The baby is in stable condition.
A five-months-pregnant woman was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Sheba and another woman was taken into the intensive care unit at Laniado Hospital in Netanya.
Four pregnant women with coronavirus have been hospitalized in recent days at Maayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak, one of them went into labor. The four needed respiratory support but were not given oxygen.