Two pregnant women miscarry after BioNTech jab

Top News | Jane Cheung 15 Apr 2021

Two pregnant women suffered miscarriages days after receiving the German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine - and that is "not routinely recommended" during pregnancy the Department of Health pointed out yesterday.

A spokesman said the one case involved a 32-year-old woman who was 23-24 weeks pregnant.

She received a first dose of the BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine at the private St Paul's Hospital in Causeway Bay last Thursday.

She then tested pregnant on Saturday, a day before suffering from vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal pain when she expelled her fetus. The fetus was declared dead at Queen Mary Hospital.

The other case was also a 32-year-old woman, who was given a jab at the vaccination facility operated by the private Hong Kong Baptist Hospital at the Choi Hung Road Badminton Centre on March 23.

She tested pregnant on March 25 and on March 31 suffered vaginal bleeding.

At Queen Elizabeth Hospital's A&E department she was found to have had a miscarriage.

A spokesman for the Department of Health did not say how far along she was in the pregnancy.

Neither woman complained of feeling unwell during a 30-minute post-inoculation observation period at the vaccination centers.

And "currently there is no evidence indicating the two cases were related to vaccinations," the Department of Health spokesman said.

Both cases are going to the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment Following Covid-19 Immunization for assessment.

According to a fact sheet provided by BioNTech, the Comirnaty vaccine is "not routinely recommended during pregnancy unless the woman is considered to be at very high risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure and subject to a very high risk of Covid-19 complications."

It advises pregnant women to consult doctors before any jab.

For Hong Kong's other vaccine option - the Beijing-made CoronaVac by Sinovac - its fact sheet states it should not be given to the pregnant.

The Department of Health said more than 3,500 miscarriages were counted annually from 2017 to 2019.

Kun Ka-yan, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, said BioNTech only started a clinical trial on pregnant women recently.

"Until it's proven safe I believe Hong Kong doctors will not recommend mums-to-be taking the vaccines," he said.

In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, he added, a woman has a 10-percent chance of a miscarriage. But for women 23 to 24 weeks pregnant the occurrence drops to three to six in every 1,000 cases.

"Unless the woman had very obvious symptoms after the vaccination," he said, "it's hard to say there is a causal relationship."

And US federal health agencies have recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the jab.

J&J said it would also delay rollout of its one-dose vaccine to Europe, and South Africa suspended use of the shots.

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