Shawn Johnson Has COVID-19 and Is Pregnant—Here's Why She's Nervous

The gymnast shared the news in an emotional and detailed IG story.

Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East—who is pregnant with her second child—revealed that she tested positive for COVID-19.

"Got my results back today and they came back positive for Covid," the 29-year-old wrote on her Instagram Story on January 31. Johnson East and her husband, Andrew, are already parents to 15-month-old Drew Hazel.

The news about her diagnosis has really rattled her, she explained. "Not going to lie… I'm nervous knowing I'm positive. It's been a long two weeks of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) with Drew and now this… my body is exhausted," wrote Johnson East, who went on to explain the reasoning behind her nervousness: "1: I don't want to get my family sick. 2: I have asthma and have had it my entire life so this scares me a little extra. 3: had a very close family member fight for his life last month while battling Covid so it's a serious topic of concern/hits home in our household."


Her symptoms haven't been easy, either. "So far, I have a cough, terrible sore throat and headache. Fatigue for sure but… that's pregnancy haha," continued Johnson East. "Not looking for any kind of pitty [sic] party. Just a reminder to take care of yourself. Drink an extra water tonight and wash your hands."

She signed the post as "yours truly aka the quarantiner in the corner bedroom."

News of Johnson East's diagnosis comes on the heels of new research that might provide some reassurance for her and other expectant moms who contract the coronavirus: A small study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Pediatrics suggests that pregnant women might transfer potentially protective antibodies for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection—the infection that causes COVID-19—to their unborn child. Researchers wrote that of the 83 mothers in the study who had antibodies that would protect against COVID-19, 72 transferred SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies across the placenta.

The researchers found that the antibodies were transferred regardless of whether the mother had asymptomatic or symptomatic infection during pregnancy. The findings also suggest that the earlier in the pregnancy a woman is infected with SARS-CoV-2, the more antibodies she transfers to her child.

The findings may help experts develop better strategies for vaccinating moms-to-be when effective vaccines become widely available, the researchers noted. Right now, the jury is still out when it comes to whether the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women. As Health previously reported, there's a lack of data on how the COVID-19 vaccines affect pregnant people and their unborn children.

Sherry Ross, MD, ob-gyn and women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Health that there's just not enough medical research to ensure that pregnant people and their unborn babies are safe from any harmful effects of the new COVID-19 vaccines. "At this point, there's too much uncertainty about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnant [people]."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also acknowledges that data are lacking. For now, ACOG recommends not withholding COVID-19 vaccines from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination.

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