Specialist in virology and immunologyjoined Dr. Océane Sorel contributes to the United Nations “Team Halo”, which brings together doctors, scientists, researchers and all volunteers dedicated to the fight against misinformation on social networks.
Since February 2021, Océane has been devoting part of her time to popularizing the science on her Instagram account, The French Virologist. She explains in simple terms, with certified sources, the scientific facts about COVID-19, vaccines, viruses and immunity in general.
like dr Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, another French member of Team Halo, continues actively Twitterit will help us to better inform you about COVID-19, especially on our Info/Intox page.
This week she answered questions about pregnancy in times of COVID. For questions about Covid in children and vaccinations for children under 11, read here.
What are the risks for my baby if I contract COVID during my pregnancy?
According to recent studies, contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal distress and preterm birth.
Are Pregnant Women at Higher Risk for Complications from the Coronavirus?
Studies have shown that pregnant women are at higher risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19 and being hospitalized than non-pregnant women of the same age.
Additionally, studies show that pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing obstetric complications during their pregnancy, which are associated with a risk of preeclampsia, maternal mortality and preterm birth.
What are the risks for my baby if I am vaccinated during my pregnancy?
Recent studies indicate that vaccination during pregnancy does not cause placental lesions, does not increase the risk of miscarriage and is not associated with complications for the newborn. The data also show that vaccination during pregnancy does not increase the risk of complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and that vaccines are effective in protecting pregnant women from infection with the virus. Therefore, vaccines given during pregnancy are considered safe for pregnant women and their babies.
At what point in pregnancy is it best to get vaccinated?
The recommendations of the Reference Center for Teratogens (CRAT) are as follows, depending on the case:
- In anticipation of pregnancy:
There is no time delay between vaccination with an mRNA or viral vector vaccine against COVID-19 and the onset of pregnancy.
- Determination of pregnancy after the 1st injection:
Nothing prevents the administration of the 2nd injection according to the recommended vaccination schedule, regardless of the length of pregnancy, including before 10 weeks.
- Vaccinate pregnant women:
Vaccination against COVID-19 is possible during pregnancy, especially if risk factors are present.
Given the data available, we would generally prefer:
- Use an mRNA vaccine.
- If possible, start the protocol between 10 and 20 weeks after the absence of the rules, i.e. after the completion of the organ formation of the embryo and sufficiently early so that the pregnant woman is protected in the 3rd trimester.
If I get vaccinated while pregnant, will my baby be protected from the virus at birth?
Studies show that antibodies are found in umbilical cord blood, meaning there is a transmission of passive immunity from mother to baby, but the effectiveness and duration of this immunity is still unknown.
Does messenger RNA also get into my baby’s cells?
No, most of the components of the vaccine remain localized at the level of the injection zone and are then quickly broken down by our body after the injection. Crossing the placenta is therefore not to be expected and consequences for the long-term baby are therefore very unlikely.
Should I give birth by cesarean section if I am positive for the virus?
Recent studies suggest that contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of giving birth by cesarean section. However, if you have questions about your pregnancy and health, talk to your gynecologist.
Can I breastfeed my baby if I have COVID-19?
The WHO recommends that breastfeeding be continued as much as possible, even if the mother has tested positive for COVID-19, the presence of the virus in breast milk has not been demonstrated, therefore transmission of the virus through breast milk is very low.
However, the WHO recommends implementing hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing and wearing a mask to limit the risk of transmitting the virus to the newborn.
 Océane received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2011 and holds a PhD in Natural Sciences in the area of Virology/Immunology. In 2016 she received the title of Doctor of Science from the University of Liège.
She then went to the United States to begin postdoctoral research at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles to study human viruses that cause cancer. In 2018 she started a second postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in a laboratory that studies the immune response to viruses such as Ebola and the varicella-zoster virus.
At the end of 2019, Océane left academic research for private research in California in the field of gene therapy and viral vectors.
Center for Research on Teratogens (Lecrat) Vaccines against Covid 19 – Pregnancy and lactation
WHO Europe on breastfeeding
WHO Frequently asked questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID 19