Brazil has warned women to delay their pregnancy until the worst epidemic has passed, saying the virus strains that devastate the South American country appear to affect pregnant women more than previous versions of the coronavirus.
The hints come as Brazil remains one of the world’s most epic pandemic countries, with more Brazilians dying of the virus each day than anywhere else in the world.
Hospitals are under stress and the amount of medication required for intubation of critically ill patients is frighteningly low, with Brazil turning to international allies for help with emergency equipment.
“If possible, postpone the pregnancy a bit until better times,” health ministry official Rafael Parent said during a news conference on Friday.
He said the advice was partly due to stress on the health system. But also from a more easily inherited Brazilian variant called P1.
“Expert clinical experience shows that this new variant is more active in pregnant women,” said Parente.
Earlier, COVID-19 patients during pregnancy focused on the last trimester and delivery, while more recently there were more serious cases in the second trimester and sometimes in the first trimester, he said.
The P1 variant, first discovered in the Amazon city of Manaus, quickly became a standout in Brazil. It is thought to be a key factor behind the massive infection wave that killed over 350,000 people, the second highest in the world after the United States.
The Brazilian outbreak is affecting younger people more and more, with hospital data showing that in March more than half of all critically ill patients were under the age of 40.
President Jair Bolsonaro objected to leaving the locks and holding big events where he usually doesn’t wear a mask. He recently accepted the vaccine as a possible solution. But the launch of vaccination has been hit by delays and misses on vaccination goals for people.
This week, vaccinations were halted in many cities due to a shortage of vaccines, according to local media.
The rise in Covid-19 patients has led to hospital shortages of the sedatives required by ventilator patients.
Emergency drug shipments arrived in Brazil late Thursday from China, while donations from Spain were expected to arrive next week.
Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have both voiced warnings about the shortage, with the São Paulo Health Secretary saying this week the city’s ability to care for coronavirus cases is on the verge of collapse.