Some unvaccinated pregnant women have caught such severe cases of Covid they had to have their babies delivered early.

That’s according to Dr Magda Smith, chief medical officer at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

Dr Smith told the Local Democracy Reporting Service last week that most of those admitted to intensive care with coronavirus had not had the jab and unvaccinated pregnant women were among the most at-risk from the virus.

She explained: “The problem is particularly bad if they’re towards the end of their pregnancy. Then actually we have to deliver the baby early to be able to look after the woman.

“We saw a few of those women sadly ending up in intensive care because they were getting incredibly sick."

She said: “It’s traumatic all round really, and obviously that’s a really challenging decision that our obstetricians have to make – how do you look after this lady with her baby? But we’ve certainly had to deliver some babies early.”

Dr Smith said the vaccine was “strongly recommended” during pregnancy, adding people would ideally get vaccinated before getting pregnant.

Covid-19 patient numbers at BHRUT’s two east London hospitals doubled in just two weeks at the end of October, before declining slightly at the start of November.

Unvaccinated people in their 30s are far more likely to have a serious case of coronavirus than an older patient who has been inoculated, Dr Smith added.

With Covid cases rising across the UK, many fear the combination of flu and coronavirus cases will put the NHS under severe pressure this winter.

Dr Smith said she expects more patients to be admitted to King George and Queen’s hospitals, and encouraged people to get vaccinated to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed.

She said: “We’re preparing for the winter – winter in the NHS is always a really busy time but I think we are expecting it to be busy this year.

“We really push and strongly recommend that if you are eligible, have your flu vaccine as well, because we think we are going to see more cases of flu.”