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The authors of the study, which was not peer-reviewed, warned that this could be due to increased immunity in the population from previous infection or vaccination.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.