Anti-viral medication & antibody infusion are COVID-19 treatment options for pregnant people

Brooke Lee is a artist and small business owner in Seattle who recently recovered from COVID-19 during the third trimester of her pregnancy.

Lee said she attended a funeral at the end of June and a few days later developed symptoms.

"It was sudden. I woke up and knew that I should test because I had a super, super sore throat, and it was literally like overnight. I felt fine the night before and then woke up with a sore throat, some body aches. Those were my main symptoms, so I took a test, and it was positive," she said. 

Lee is receiving care from the midwives at Swedish Ballard, who recommended two treatment options: Monoclonal antibodies, which is delivered through an infusion, or anti-viral medication called Paxlovid. 

"Since I didn’t have a high fever and I didn’t get bad respiratory symptoms, yeah, I hope that it helped," said Lee. "It’s hard to know whether that was what kept my symptoms mild or would they have been mild anyways."

Dr. Alisa Kachikis, an Assistant Professor of Maternal Medicine at UW who cares for people with high-risk pregnancies, said studies have shown the two Covid-19 treatments can make a difference. 

"There are studies on Paxlovid in the non-pregnant population showing that it does decrease the risk of hospitalization and death," said Dr. Kachikis.

The CDC said the overall risks are low, but if you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you’re more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant.

"We know that pregnant women with COVID-19 have a higher risk of being admitted to the hospital in ICU and potentially even death, and having a severe infection also isn’t good for the placenta or the fetus, and so we like to keep a close eye on everything," said Dr. Kachikis. "In general, COVID-19 and pregnant people do okay. The big important thing is to just be in contact with your OB provider and make sure that you’re all on the same page in terms of how your symptoms are and how you’re feeling, and whether you need to come in for a visit or be seen in the hospital."

Lee said she tested negative after nine days and said follow-up appointments show her son is doing well. 

Her daughter, Indigo, was born in September 2020 before vaccines. Lee said it was a special time for her husband and their first child, but this time around, she’s looking forward to welcoming her son surrounded by family and friends and now fully recovered from COVID-19.

"I feel so much better, and I’m thankful that it wasn’t closer to when I’m going to have the baby because I can’t imagine feeling the way that I felt and going into labor," said Lee.

If you’re pregnant and get infected with COVID-19, make sure you reach out to your doctor and see what treatment options may be right for you.

Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies may also be offered to people with risk factors including a heart or lung condition, diabetes and those who are immunocompromised.