Omicron variant represents lower risk of hospitalization than Delta, two UK studies coincide

Two studies of the United Kingdom published on Wednesday showed that Covid-19 Omicron variant are less likely to result in a hospitalization, compared to the Delta variant, which would confirm the trend observed for the first time in South Africa.

Preliminary studies, one of Scotland and another from England, were cautiously welcomed by the experts who, however, stressed that any advantage in the results can still be reversed due to the highly infectious nature of the new strain, which can still cause serious cases in general.

“We are saying that this classifies as good news, because these are the first observations, they are statistically significant and we are showing a reduced risk of hospitalization,” said Jim McMenamin, co-author of the Scottish research in a call with the press.

The Scottish study examined Covid-19 cases registered in November and December and grouped them according to the variant that produced them: Delta or Ómicron.

It found that “Omicron is associated with a two-thirds lower risk of hospitalization from Covid-19, compared to the Delta variant,” while also showing that the booster shot offered substantial additional protection against symptomatic infection.

The study was small and there were no people younger than 60 years hospitalized at the time, but the authors claimed to have adjusted for these limitations using statistical methods.

The second investigation, English, found that there was a 20 to 25% reduction in hospital visits due to Omicron compared to the delta variant, and a 40 to 45% reduction in hospitalizations of one night or more, or “admissions”.

The Scottish study only looked at admissions, which may partly explain the observed differences.

Azra Ghani del Imperial College London, a co-author of the English study, said in a statement: “While the reduction in the risk of hospitalization with Omicron is reassuring, the risk of infection remains extremely high.”

“Adding the booster dose, the vaccines they continue to offer the best protection against infection and hospitalization, “he added.

None of the studies have been peer-reviewed yet but add to the growing evidence on disease outcomes with Omicron.

It is not clear if the decrease in the severity rate of Omicron cases is due to characteristics of the variant or if it is weaker when appearing in populations with greater immunity due to previous infection and vaccination.

Penny Ward, professor of pharmaceutical medicine at the King’s College London, who is not part of the investigations, stated that “the news does not downplay the extraordinary proliferation of this variant in the population, and the fact that even a small part of the population needs hospital care due to Covid may in fact lead to , in large numbers if the infection rate in the community continues to increase. “

South African study supports observations

A South African study suggests that there is a lower risk of hospitalization and serious illness in people infected with the disease. Omicron variant of the coronavirus than those infected with Delta, although the authors affirm that part of this is probably due to the high immunity of the population.

The new study, which has not been peer-reviewed, tried to assess the severity of the disease by comparing data on Omicron infections in October and November with data on delta infections between April and November, all from South Africa.

The analysis was carried out by a group of scientists from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and leading universities such as the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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