The Covid omicron variant is less likely to cause hospitalization than previous strains and seems to be milder in comparison, according to early data released this week.
Data from England, South Africa, and Scotland establish that people infected with omicron are particularly less likely to be admitted to a hospital than if they contract other strains, and the latter study morehighlighted the significance of getting a booster shot.
On Tuesday, a fresh study from South Africarevealed that people infected with omicron are 80% less likely to be admitted to a hospital while compared with other strains. The authors of the study, which has not been peer-reviewed, alerted that this may be in part because of higher immunity among the population, either due toearlier infection and/or vaccination.
The research, issued by the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, indicates a minimized risk of hospitalization and extreme disease in omicron sufferers if compared with people who suffered from the delta variant.
In the two months through November, the data establish that individuals with omicron were 70% less likely to suffer fromthe acute disease than previous delta infections.But, among those hospitalized, the risk of severe disease didn’t vary from other variants.
The authors of the South Africa paper highlighted factors known to be linked with more severe infections, including age and comorbidities, and considered factors including vaccination status.
Elsewhere, studies from Scotland and England seem to back up the South Africa findings.
Early Scottish data, published Wednesday and not peer-reviewed, indicates that omicron is two-thirds less likely to cause hospitalization compared tothe delta. The study also establishes that a third or booster dose of a vaccine provides substantial extra protection against symptomatic Covid for omicron.
Separate figures from England, published on Wednesday as well, show that the risk of hospitalization for patients with the new variant is 40% to 45% less than those with delta. According to the Imperial College London study, which is not peer-reviewed, found omicron infection was 15% to 20% less likely to lead to hospitalization compared with delta.
But the authors stressed that taking vaccination status into account is a more complex overall picture, as people in England may have received the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca shots — or a combination.
Scientists emphasize that it is still too early to conclude if omicron is milder, and its higher transmissibility proves there is still a risk that healthcare systems could become overwhelmed as the high number of infections will possibly compel more people to need hospital care.
But the new data offers a ray of hope as governments try to assess the acuteness of the variant.