Omicron much less prone to trigger hospitalization, UK authorities examine says

Christmas shoppers in London on December 23, 2021.

Hasan Esen | Agency Anadolu | Getty Images

LONDON – According to a UK government study published Thursday, people with the Omicron-Covid variant are far less likely to be hospitalized than the previous Delta strain.

The UK Health Safety Authority said It is estimated that people with Omicron are between 31% and 45% less likely to go to emergency rooms and 50-70% less likely to be hospitalized compared to those with Delta.

The analysis is “preliminary and highly uncertain” due to the small number of Omicron cases currently in hospital, the inability to effectively measure all previous infections, and the limited spread of the new variant to older age groups, the UKHSA said .

The results are based on 132 people admitted to or relocated to emergency rooms. Of these, 17 people had received their booster vaccinations, 74 were double-vaccinated and 27 were unvaccinated. Eight people had received a single vaccination, the vaccination status of 6 people was unknown.

The study says 14 people, ages 52 to 96, died within 28 days of being diagnosed with Omicron.

“Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people infected with the Omicron variant may have a relatively lower risk of hospitalization than those infected with other variants,” said Jenny Harries, UKHSA executive director. in a statement.

“It should be noted, however, that these are both early data and additional research to corroborate these results.”

The preliminary data are consistent with similar results by scholars in South Africa and research teams from Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh.

A study published Tuesday by the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases found that people infected with Omicron are 80% less likely to be hospitalized than other variants. A 70 percent reduction in the risk of serious illness in those not hospitalized was also seen.

The authors of the study, which was not peer-reviewed, warned that this could be due to increased immunity in the population from previous infection or vaccination. South African health officials also said the data should not be extrapolated to all countries.

In Scotland, researchers found that Omicron was two-thirds less likely to be hospitalized than Delta, and they continued to emphasize that how important it is to get a booster vaccination.

It’s still in its infancy, but preliminary results give hope that the human and economic consequences of the heavily mutated strain will not be as great as initially feared. Omicron has spread like wildfire, which has led to the reintroduction of restrictions in some countries as authorities struggle to contain it.

However, due to the higher transferability of omicron, the risk of overloading the health systems in winter is still quite high, as the high number of infections will likely lead to more hospital stays.

Omicron was first identified in South Africa in November and classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. The US now reports an average of more than 160,000 new infections per day, while the UK reported more than 100,000 cases on Thursday for the second day in a row.

Pfizer says its Covid tablet with HIV drug cuts the chance of hospitalization or dying by 89%

Pfizer said Friday that its easy-to-use Covid-19 pill, used in combination with a widely used HIV drug, increased the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk adults exposed to the virus by 89% lowers.

It’s now the second antiviral pill behind it Merck‘s to demonstrate strong efficacy in treating Covid at the first sign of disease. If approved by regulators, it would likely mark a turning point in the ongoing global battle against the pandemic.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC the company plans to submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration before Thanksgiving.

“I think this drug is going to change the way things are happening, that are going to save millions and millions of lives, it has the potential to do that,” Bourla said in an interview with CNBC.Squawk box“He said the company has” the current capacity of 500 million pills, “which in his opinion equates to 50 million treatments.” The very high level of effectiveness comes as a surprise even to us and exceeds our most visionary expectations about it. “

Pfizer’s pill, scientifically known as PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors and works by blocking an enzyme that the virus needs to multiply in human cells. Protease inhibitors are used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.

The HIV drug helps slow the metabolism or breakdown of the Pfizer pill so that it stays active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations, the company said.

The company said its data on the drug is based on a mid-to late-stage study of 1,219 adults who had at least one underlying disease and one laboratory-confirmed infection within five days. Participants also received a low dose of ritonavir, a drug often used in combination treatments for HIV.

Pfizer said there were six hospitalizations and zero deaths of the 607 study participants who received the pill in combination with the HIV drug within five days of the onset of symptoms. That compares to 41 hospitalizations and 10 deaths for the 612 people who received a placebo.

‚ÄúThese data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved by regulators, has the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections and achieve up to nine out of ten hospital stays Avoid, “said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer in a statement.

not how Gilead SciencesThe intravenous drug Remdesivir, Pfizer and Merck drugs can be taken orally. While vaccinations remain the best form of protection against the virus, health experts hope pills like these will prevent the progression of the disease in those who become infected and prevent hospitalizations.

Biotherapeutics from Merck and Ridgeback said on October 1st that they developed a drug that, when given on its own, reduces the risk of hospitalization or death in patients with mild or moderate cases of Covid by about 50%.

Merck’s antiviral pill was approved by The UK Medicines Agency on Thursday.

June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s drug and health products regulator, said the Merck pill is the treatment of Covid, a disease that has cost the lives of more than 5 million people worldwide and has put an enormous strain on health systems.

Bourla told CNBC in April that Pfizer’s pill could be available to Americans by the end of this year.