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NEW DELHI: Pregnant and postpartum women were more severely affected during the second wave of COVID-19 as compared to the first with symptomatic cases and the case fatality rate being significantly higher among this category this year, according to a study by ICMR.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday said cases related to pregnant and postpartum women during the first wave (April 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021) and during the second wave (February 1, 2021 to May 14) of the pandemic in India were compared.

“Symptomatic cases were significantly higher at 28.7 per cent in the second wave (111/387), compared to the first wave (162/1143) when the proportion was 14.2 per cent,” the apex research body said.

“The case fatality rate (CFR) among pregnant women and postpartum women was 5.7 per cent (22/387) during the second wave, which was significantly higher compared to the scenario encounter in the first wave with CFR 0.7 per cent (8/1143),” it said.

Total number of maternal deaths during both the waves of pandemic were 2 per cent (30/1530), of which the majority (28/30) were due to COVID-19 pneumonia and respiratory failure.

“The study underlines the importance of vaccination of pregnant and lactating women against COVID-19,” the ICMR said.

The COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all lactating women in India.

However, the government has still not allowed vaccinating pregnant women citing lack of clinical trial data and the matter is under discussion by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

The WHO last week had recommended vaccinating pregnant women if they face high risk of exposure to Covid, and if they have co-morbid conditions.