Monday, December 6, 2021

How does pregnancy factor into COVID-19 innovation?

By Nicholson Price, Rachel Sachs, Jacob S. Sherkow, and Lisa Larrimore Ouellette

Pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, but they have been largely excluded from clinical trials, the process of testing vaccines’ and treatments’ safety and efficacy. They’re consequently left in a bind: there’s not great evidence about the safety and efficacy of products they can take to be safe from COVID-19. This lack of information might be part of the explanation for low vaccine uptake among pregnant people, particularly women of color. And while this lack of data isn’t particularly novel with respect to drug development, generally—we’re historically bad at generating robust safety data for pregnant people—failing to do so for COVID-19 seems to have outsized public health consequences. What’s behind this ongoing exclusion? And how should policymakers consider including pregnant people in COVID-19 clinical trials and beyond?