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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Omicron less likely to hospitalize you, says study

by Laura Unger and Mike Stobe

Two new British studies provide some early indication that the Omicron version of the coronavirus may be milder than the delta version.

The scientists emphasize that even if the findings of these early studies are correct, any reduction in severity needs to be weighed against the fact that Omicron spreads much faster than Delta and is more able to survive vaccines. Is. The sheer number of infections could still take a toll on hospitals.

Still, the new study released Wednesday appears to bolster earlier research that suggested Omicron may not be as harmful as the delta variant, said Manuel Ascano Jr., a Vanderbilt University biochemist who specializes in the virus. studies.

“Cautious optimism is probably the best way to look at it,” he said.

An analysis by the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team estimated the risk of hospitalization for omicron cases in England to find people infected thus far more likely to go to hospital than those infected with the delta variant. 20% less, and 40% less likely to be hospitalized for one or more nights.

That analysis included all cases of COVID-19 confirmed by PCR tests in England in the first half of December in which variants could be identified: 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta.

A separate study out of Scotland by scientists and other experts from the University of Edinburgh suggested that the risk of hospitalization was two-thirds lower with Omicron than with Delta. But that study reported that about 24,000 omicron cases in Scotland were mainly in young adults aged 20 to 39. Younger people are much less likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19.

“This national investigation shows for the first time that Omicron is less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than Delta,” the researchers wrote. While the findings are preliminary observations, “they are encouraging,” the authors wrote.

The findings have yet to be reviewed by other experts, the gold standard in scientific research.

Ascano noted that the studies have limitations. For example, in the United Kingdom the findings are specific to a certain amount of time during a rapidly changing situation and may not fare in the same way in other countries.

Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that in the Scottish study, the percentage of young people was almost twice as high for the Omicron group compared to the Delta group, and “the findings may have been biased. with less severe consequences.”

He nevertheless said the data was interesting and suggest that Omicron may cause less severe disease. But he added: “It is important to emphasize that if Omicron has a much higher transmission rate than Delta, the absolute number of people hospitalized despite less severe illness in most cases could still rise.” “

Data from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, also suggested that Omicron may be lighter there. Salim Abdul Karim, a clinical infectious disease epidemiologist in South Africa, said earlier this week that the admission rate in hospitals was much lower for Omicron than for Delta.

“Our overall penetration rate is in the region of about 2% to 4% compared to earlier, where it was closer to 20%,” he said. “So even though we are seeing a lot of cases, very few people are being admitted.”


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

World Nation News Desk
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