COVID-19 in Pregnancy in Scotland

About COPS

What is the COPS study?

COPS is providing population-based information for the whole of Scotland on the incidence of, and outcomes following, COVID-19 infection and COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.

Research Insights video: Covid-19 in pregnancy

Watch again - this is a recording of a public event held by the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in March 2021.

Drs Sarah Stock (Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh) and Rachael Wood (Public Health Scotland) talk about the COPS study with Hazel Lambert.

Video: CMVM Research Insight - Sarah Stock and Rachael Wood March 2021
Dr Rachael Wood and Dr Sarah Stock share their work to understand risks to pregnant women during the pandemic.

Who is leading the COPS study?

COPS is co-led by Dr Sarah Stock from the University of Edinburgh and Dr Rachael Wood Public Health Scotland and uses healthcare data from across Scotland.

Sarah Stock (co-lead)

Reader and subspecialist in Maternal and Fetal Medicine, University of Edinburgh and

Honorary Consultant, Public Health Scotland

Rachael Wood (co-lead)

Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Public Health Scotland; and

Honorary Reader, University of Edinburgh

The COPS project is linked to EAVE II (Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19). 

Find out more about EAVE-II on the study website

What does the COPS study involve?

We have linked healthcare records on all pregnancies in Scotland including early pregnancy losses (e.g. miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy), terminations of pregnancy, live and stillbirths and neonatal health records, with COVID-19 test results and COVID-19 vaccine records.

We have information on all women who were pregnant on 1st March 2020, and pregnancies from 1st March 2020 onwards. The 1st March 2020 is important as this was the date of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Scotland. Records are updated monthly, so the number of women whose data are included in COPS continues to grow.

We are using these healthcare records to describe how many pregnant women had COVID-19 and how many were vaccinated. We are also studying if COVID-19 increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, congenital anomalies, low birthweight, preterm birth, need for specialist baby care (admission to a neonatal unit) or baby death; and providing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination for women and their babies.

The healthcare record linkage and analysis will take place within Public Health Scotland. The study dataset will be ‘pseudonymised’ before analysis. Pseudonymised or 'de-personalised' data is information that does not contain items that directly identify individuals, such as name and address or unique patient number. However, pseudonymised information is still about individuals and so needs to be handled with care. It might, in theory, be possible to recognise or re-identify individuals from pseudonymised data, for example if individuals have very rare pregnancy complications, or if the pseudonymised data was combined with different sources of information, for example from news reports. For this reason, Public Health Scotland will treat the COPS study data very carefully, using well established and strict controls to keep the data safe.

Public Health Scotland Privacy Notice

Read more about identifiable versus anonymous data on the 'What does 'anonymised' mean?' page on the 'Understanding Patient Data' website

You can find and download detailed description of the methods we use for COPS on our GitHub site. As the study progresses more metadata and analysis code will be added here.

How will COPS benefit the public?

Understanding the effects of COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination at different stages during the maternity journey from conception through to birth will help inform policy and advice to pregnant women and those considering pregnancy.

How will results from COPS be used?

The results of the COPS study are used by Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government. Official statistics on COVID-19 infection and vaccination in pregnancy from COPS are released through Public Health Scotland’s COVID-19 weekly report for Scotland.

Public Health Scotland's COVID-19 weekly report for Scotland

Read more outputs from COPS