SPONSORED BY ALL WOMEN, OBGYN | By Elena Salerno, MD
We all remember reading about the death and despair that pandemics like the Spanish Flu and earlier the Black Plague caused to humankind. Then, suddenly, we found ourselves in another pandemic, COVID-19. Ten months later the FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which are mRNA based and do not contain viral particles. Some had concern about the speed in developing these vaccines, however, this is not a new technology, and it has been studied for over twenty years, in the effort to develop anti-cancer vaccines.
The same month these vaccines were authorized, a baseless claim that they cause female infertility and pregnancy loss surfaced: the connection was that the antibody response against the spike protein also interacts with a protein involved in the early formation of the placenta, and therefore leading to infertility. When this theory was put to test, experts agree that the two proteins, the spike of the COVID-19 virus and the placental protein, are not similar at all and therefore it is impossible that the antibodies against this deadly virus could attack the early stage of placental formation.
COVID infection has caused many deaths and permanent lung damage in survivors. Pregnant women who experience a severe infection are at greater risk of ICU admission, including mechanical ventilation, and death than non-pregnant women. Furthermore, the pregnancy itself has a higher risk of preeclampsia, preterm labor and still birth. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has been very supportive and encouraged the use of mRNA vaccines in women, during pregnancy, in the process of conception and in young prepubertal girls.
In summary, there is no evidence linking the mRNA vaccines to female infertility and early miscarriage. However, there is plenty of information of the deleterious effect of COVID-19 infection on the pregnancy and the fetus. Evidence supports that protective antibodies against COVID-19 cross the placenta and provide protection to the baby after delivery. And this is another reason to get vaccinated!