Omicron hospitalization risk is far below Delta’s in two studies
The omicron variant of Covid-19 may be less likely to land patients in the hospital than the delta strain, according to a trio of studies of preliminary data.
Researchers in Scotland suggest omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of hospitalization when compared with the earlier variant, though omicron was 10 times more likely than delta to infect people who’d already had Covid.
An Imperial College London team working with a larger set of data from England found that people with omicron were 15 to 20 percent less likely to visit the hospital and 40 to 45 percent less likely to require an overnight stay.
The fresh data add to earlier findingsWednesday showing that South Africans contracting Covid-19 are 80 percent less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the new variant, compared with other strains. Omicron infections are also associated with a 70 percent lower risk of severe disease than delta, the study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed.
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Although preliminary, the body of research could provide reassurance that omicron may be substantially less likely to result in severe outcomes than delta, at least in places where large numbers of people already have some immunity.
Still, the researchers said the highly contagious new strain could weigh on health-care systems as infections soar worldwide. Daily Covid cases in the U.K. surged above 100,000 Wednesday, the country’s highest single-day tally yet.
“It’s important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Jim McMenamin, national Covid-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland, which conducted the Scottish study with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde.
“A smaller proportion of a greater number of cases requiring treatment might still mean a substantial number of people that may experience severe Covid.”
Booster doses offer greater protection against delta, and a third shot also offers substantial additional protection against the risk of symptomatic infection for omicron, the Scottish team found.