Trio of studies show hospitalization less likely with omicron

Three new studies from countries that had early omicron outbreaks suggest that people who get the new variant are less likely to be hospitalized than those infected with previous variants like delta. 

A study out of South Africa, where the variant hit first in mid- to late-November, found that hospitalization risk was cut by 80% compared to other variants. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases also found that people were 70% less likely to get a severe case of COVID-19 with omicron.

A Scottish study showed a two-thirds reduction in hospitalization from omicron, although it also found that people who had already been infected with the coronavirus were 10 times more likely to be infected again by the omicron variant.

The Imperial College of London found a lesser reduction of 15 to 20% in hospitalizations, as well as a 40 to 45% reduction in the need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Omicron less risky, preliminary data shows

Taken together, these studies seem to show that omicron holds less risk for severe disease, hospitalization and death than previous variants.

While more people may get omicron, even those who have already had COVID-19 before, they are less likely to have a severe case of the virus, the studies showed.

And the variant may wane as fast as it increased. Cases are already going down in South Africa, and hospitalizations are only at 40% of the peak of previous waves caused by other variants.

South Africa also reports that excess deaths are around one-eighth of their previous peak.

While the variant is slightly newer in the UK, Worldometers shows that deaths have not increased since omicron made its appearance. In fact, deaths have slightly decreased in recent weeks as cases have nearly doubled during the same time period.

New data may bring calm

The new data should bring some calm to leaders in other countries like the U.S. where omicron is taking hold. Despite some governors and mayors reinstituting mask mandates, almost no one is discussing widespread lockdowns because of the virus.

President Joe Biden continued on Tuesday to advocate getting vaccinated and getting boosters, even though many vaccinated people are now becoming infected with the virus.

Getting omicron while fully vaccinated and/or boostered is expected to protect against already rare servere disease, however.


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