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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

New data reveals pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness and death if they contract the coronavirus, the CDC said Monday in a shift from its health advisory from June.

Why it matters: Pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 were more likely to require ventilation, and had a 70% increased chance of death compared to non-pregnant women with symptoms.

The big picture: Researchers say the increased risk might be related to physiologic changes in pregnancy, like increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, decreased lung capacity, a shift away from cell-mediated immunity and increased risk for thromboembolic disease.

  • 409,462 symptomatic women between ages 15 to 44 were studied, including 23,434 pregnant women.
  • Pregnant women are three times more likely to be admitted to an ICU and to require mechanical ventilation.

Noteworthy: Though the sample was not nationally representative, another CDC study released Monday said women who tested positive for COVID-19 were at an increased risk of delivering babies prematurely.

  • The findings are consistent with earlier studies showing slightly higher percentages of pre-term deliveries among women diagnosed with COVID-19.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.