Coronavirus antibodies present in babies born to vaccinated mothers, research suggests

The findings further the argument in support of pregnant women receiving the coronavirus vaccine, a researcher said

Babies born to mothers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine prior to giving birth were born with protective antibodies against the virus, according to a preliminary Israeli study.

Researchers at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem took blood samples from the umbilical cords, which is the same blood found inside the babies, of 40 newborns, finding that antibodies against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, were present in all. All mothers whose babies were studied had received their second dose about a week before giving birth, according to The Times of Isreal.

"In our study, we found immunoglobulin G antibodies that are active against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which basically block the entry of the virus to cells. This follows research which suggests that [breast] milk has another type of antibodies, Immunoglobulin A," Prof. Dana Wolf, head of Hadassah’s virology department, told the Israeli outlet. 

The findings further the argument in support of pregnant women receiving the coronavirus vaccine, the Times of Isreal reported, a topic that has been debated among experts around the world as pregnant women were not initially included in coronavirus vaccine trials. 

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Since then, however, such studies have begun. In the U.S., "clinical trials that look at the safety and how well the COVID-19 vaccines work in pregnant people are underway or planned," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 10,000 pregnant women have been in trials since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization to vaccine makers such as Pfizer and Moderna. In February, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said that "no red flags" in trials of pregnant women who had taken the vaccine were found "thus far."

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Some questions remain, however, such as how long the babies will retain the antibodies, or what type of protection they provide. 

Still, "this is an important finding that is reassuring, suggesting that vaccinated mothers pass COVID-19 protection to their babies before they are born. It underscores the importance of vaccinating pregnant women, and the benefits of doing so," Wolf told the Times of Israel. 

Preliminary results from the Israeli study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, were recently published to the preprint site medRxiv.