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COVID-19 vaccine provides effective protection against Omicron pregnancy risks


Thanks to a study by University of Oxford and Hadassah researchers, a COVID-19 booster gives increased protection against increased risk of pregnancy complications due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Protection against an increased risk of pregnancy complications is provided by the COVID-19 Omicron booster vaccine, according to a new study at the University of Oxford in the UK and the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The main researcher from Israel, Dr. Michal Lifshitz – a nurse researcher in the obstetrics and gynecology division at the Hadassah’s Faculty of Medicine – said that “Israel was the pioneer in calling on pregnant women to vaccinate against the pandemic, and the rate of women vaccinated with a third vaccination is among the highest in the world. We are witnessing that the rate of pregnant women in Israel who were severely ill is among the lowest in the world.”

The findings of an international collaboration led by the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute (OMPHI) at the University of Oxford, together with researchers from Hadassah and other leading international centers, published research findings that aroused great interest in the leading journal, The Lancet. It has just been published under the title “Pregnancy outcomes and vaccine effectiveness during the period of omicron as the variant of concern, INTERCOVID-2022: a multinational, observational study.”

Researchers at 41 medical centers in 18 countries assessed the Omicron COVID-19 variant on mothers and newborns by studying 1,545 pregnant women diagnosed with the variant and 3,073 pregnant women who were not diagnosed with the infection as controls.

The study was conducted between November 27, 2021, and June 30, 2022, when Omicron was the most common strain. Vaccine effectiveness against the variant was also assessed.

The study found that infection with the Omicron variant during pregnancy is connected with increased risks of maternal illness, severe pregnancy complications, and admission to the hospital, especially among symptomatic and unvaccinated women.

Also rising is the risk of preeclampsia – a serious medical condition that usually occurs about midway through pregnancy (after 20 weeks) causing high blood pressure, protein in their urine, swelling, headaches and blurred vision. Obese/overweight women with severe symptoms were at the highest risk for maternal morbidity and severe complications.

It was also found that vaccinated women were better protected against severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications and had a low risk of admission to an intensive care unit. To prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications, women should be encouraged to fully vaccinate, preferably with a booster dose as well

Preventing severe symptoms In the study, mRNA vaccines were most effective in preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications, although viral-vector vaccines also provided adequate protection – for at least 10 months after the last dose – for both types of vaccine.

“We have presented robust, evidence-based information on the increased risk of the COVID-19 Omicron variant during pregnancy for severe maternal complications among symptomatic and unvaccinated women,” according to Perinatal Medicine Prof. José Villar at Oxford, who co-led INTERCOVID 2022.

“Of concern is that severe symptoms of the disease occurred in four percent to seven percent of unvaccinated women diagnosed with the COVID-19 Omicron variant during pregnancy,” he said. “The study clearly indicates the need for a full vaccination course during pregnancy, preferably with a booster, to provide protection for at least 10 months following the last dose. Antenatal services worldwide should strive to include vaccination against COVID-19 in the routine care of pregnant women.”

Oxford Fetal medicine Prof. Aris Papageorghiou, who also co-led INTERCOVID 2022, concluded: “Although the Omicron variant may be less harmful than previous variants in the general population, the large proportion of unvaccinated pregnant women worldwide are still at major risk for severe illness. As it is impossible to predict who will develop severe symptoms or complications, universal full vaccination is required. Unfortunately, full vaccination coverage among pregnant women is still inadequate, even in developed countries.”

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH Published: JANUARY 31, 2023 View the original article

Hadassah Hospital’s First Babies Of 2023

The celebration of new life is a momentous moment at the dawn of a new year. Hadassah Hospital is delighted to welcome its firstborn of 2023.

At the stroke of midnight at Hadassah Mount Scopus, a sweet baby girl was born to Reut and Harel, adding to their ever-growing family of three children – all born at Hadassah.

“We want to thank our wonderful midwife, Shiri Wind Keren. Shiri, thank you very much for your care, and great dedication for staying with me until the end of the birth. And, a big thank you to all the professional and warm staff at Hadassah Mount Scopus,” said Reut.

“I wish lots of good luck and success to all the mothers and new mothers and a successful civil year to all of them,” added Reut.

Photo: the baby born at Hadassah Mount Scopus, with mother Reut and midwife Shiri Wind Keren.

Across at Hadassah Ein Kerem, the first birth for 2023 also took place. It was a baby boy and the first birth for happy parents, Ataret and Ben.


“A big thank you for the attentive, supportive, and professional team at Hadassah Hospital. I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2023, ” said Ataret excitedly.

Photo: the baby born at Hadassah Ein Kerem, hugged by a teddy bear.


Technology helping Israel cure cancer in children

Technology helping Israel cure cancer in children

The survival rate of children with cancer in Israel is at 85-90 percent thanks to technology.

Speaking to journalists from Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia, Dr. Gal Goldstein, Director of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, attributes the success rate to improved genomics.

According to him, genomics allowed doctors to better understand the interactions between genes and the environment, and provide a more precise diagnosis.

“Other than genomics, the other reason why the survival rate is high is due to better diagnostic tools that allow doctors to get a better view into how patients are responding to treatments and improve their ability to provide personalized care,” said Dr. Goldstein.

In Kenya, the survival rate among children with cancer is below 30 percent with the country losing eight in every 10 children under cancer treatment.

The low rate has been attributed to the challenges in the local medical field including the high cost of drugs, poor infrastructure, shortage of skilled personnel, lack of proper community awareness and late diagnosis.

In Israel, the plan is to increase the survival rate to 100 percent by 2040 through the development of several new drugs and drug combinations.

With the success rate high, the country is now working on how to lower the toxicity of treatments and make them more precise.

Several recent studies have shown that while the cancer is cured, childhood cancer survivors are not necessarily healthy.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a large percentage of 1,700 people ages 18 to 60 who were treated with chemotherapy, radiation or both, had problems later on.

These included hearing loss (62 percent), abnormal cholesterol levels (61 percent), male infertility (66 percent), hormonal dysfunction (61 percent) and abnormal lung function (65 percent), among other complications.

Read the full story.

Hadassah Medical Center makes Newsweek’s list of top cardiology centers

Newsweek magazine has selected the Cardiology and Oncology (Sherett Institute) Divisions of Hadassah Medical Center for their list of the best hospitals in the world.

Newsweek magazine has selected the Cardiology and Oncology (Sherett Institute) Divisions of Hadassah Medical Center for their list of the best hospitals in the world specializing in various medical fields for 2022. Hadassah Hospital’s oncology unit is the only such unit in Israel that was eligible to make it to the list.  Newsweek has also selected Hadassah Medical Center for the list of the world’s smartest hospitals for 2023.

The magazine publishes a selection of 250 hospitals from around the world with the best departments in cardiology, oncology and other fields based on 40,000 recommendations from multiple medical professionals.
They also held an international survey of hospital directors and health professionals.

“Hadassah has earned its name in Israel, and globally as a leading center of excellence,” said Hadassah Director General Prof. Yoram Weiss.

Hadassah made the list alongside many leading hospitals like the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins in the United States, as well as many other large clinics around the world.
“The hospitals that appear on the list of the ‘smartest’ in the world are the ones that make the most correct and efficient use of the most advanced technologies,” Newsweek magazine wrote. 
“The world’s smartest hospitals rank medical centers in 28 countries, leading in their use of artificial intelligence, digital imaging telemedicine, robotics and electronic functions.”
“Taking advantage of these new technologies not only improves hospital outcomes and efficiency. But, also positions hospitals as part of a broader ecosystem that aims to drive key processes in various areas of health such as disease prevention, population health and improved quality of life.” 

Hadassah Medical Center staff responses.

“Hadassah has earned its name in Israel, and around the world as a leading center of excellence. Where first-class experts in fields of medicine and science work, providing professional and humane medical care, leading in research and smart technological developments and training the next generation of physicians in Israel,” said Prof. Yoram Weiss, Hadassah Director General.

“The achievements that the magazine has chosen to honour vis-à-vis the great work at Hadassah – oncology, cardiology and the use of advanced technological systems – are a huge source of pride and a spotlight directed at only a small part of what happens here every day by Hadassah staff in all departments, for the future of medicine.
“The Sharett Institute of Oncology at Hadassah is proud to represent Israel in this distinguished list of the world’s leading institutes in the field of oncology,” Director of the Hadassah Division of Oncology Prof. Aharon Popovtzer said. “This choice made by leading physicians and patients expresses the recognition of our Institute’s academic and clinical excellence. 
“The Sharett Institute of Oncology excels in innovative treatments in all areas of oncology and radiation, in groundbreaking research and at the same time maintains empathic treatment and attitude toward our patients. This selection is a certificate of honour for all our divisions, including medical, nursing, radiation and supporting teams. We thank all the disciplines in the hospital who work with us in complete harmony.”

“The choice of the Hadassah Cardiology Division is exciting and reflects extensive activity in all areas of cardiac medicine from innovative treatments, through groundbreaking research, to training the next generation of cardiologists from Israel and around the world.” Director of the Hadassah Division of Cardiology Prof. Ofer Amir

“We are proud to be included in Newsweek’s distinguished list, along with the world’s leading cardiac departments. It is undoubtedly a certificate of honour for the medical teams, the nursing staff and all the supporters of the fight – in the cardiac division and in other hospital divisions that are tangential to us, every day, in patient treatment and saving lives.”

Read the original article in The Jerusalem Post.

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