by Mish Shedlock, The Street:
Studies in Scotland and South Africa show serious infections from Omicron are far less than the previous Delta version of Covid.
Hospitalization Risk Declines Significantly
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“This is a qualified good news story,” said Jim McMenamin, incident director for Covid-19 at Public Health Scotland, and one of the authors of the Scottish study, at a briefing. “It’s important we don’t get ahead of ourselves. A smaller proportion of a much greater number of cases can still mean a substantial number of people that might experience severe Covid infections that could lead to hospitalization.”
The University of Edinburgh study, drawing on the health records of 5.4 million people in Scotland, found the risk of hospitalization with Covid-19 was two-thirds lower with Omicron than with Delta. The new variant became dominant in Scotland last week.
A separate study published online by researchers at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases similarly found people infected with Omicron were 70% to 80% less likely to need hospital treatment than people infected with earlier variants, including Delta.
“In South Africa, this is the epidemiology. Omicron is behaving in a way that is less severe,” Professor Cheryl Cohen, who heads the institute’s center for respiratory diseases and meningitis, told reporters on a conference call.
These new studies, which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, shed light on the severity of illness Omicron causes. They offer new evidence that Omicron infections tend to be milder in populations with high levels of immunity, whether from vaccination or prior infection. In Scotland, 83.6% of people aged 12 and over have received two doses of vaccine, and 56.6% have received a third shot.
“We don’t have as many admissions to hospital as we were expecting, had Omicron been exactly the same as the Delta infection,” said Chris Robertson, professor of public health epidemiology at the University of Strathclyde, who contributed to the Scottish study.
Similarly, Bloomberg reports Omicron Hospitalization Risk Is Far Below Delta’s in Two Studies
Some of the hospitalization rate decline could be a statistical mirage.
Two questions explain.
- Is the severity less because of increased vaccination rates?
- Is the severity less because of acquired immunity?
Point number two is the key idea.
While we know the risk of hospitalization goes down with vaccinations, we do not have a good handle on the percentage of unvaccinated people who have previously been infected with Covid.
Regardless, good news is good news.
Omicron Becomes Dominant U.S. Strain With 73% of Covid Cases
On December 20, Bloomberg reported Omicron Becomes Dominant U.S. Strain With 73% of Covid Cases.
The omicron variant accounted for 73% of all sequenced Covid-19 cases in the U.S., surging from around 3% last week, according to the latest federal estimates.
The highly mutated coronavirus strain has been detected across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a model that it updates weekly. The delta variant, which had been the dominant form of the virus in the U.S. last week, has now receded to roughly 27% of sequenced cases.
That’s also good to excellent news given the severity of Omicron is much less than previous versions of Covid, for whatever reason.