The omicron variant is milder than delta, three major studies confirm. Research has been carried out in Scotland, England and South Africa.
According to three major studies, the omicron coronavirus variant is milder than Delta and it is less likely that people infected with the omicron variant will become severely ill.
Neil Ferguson also known by the nickname ‘Professor Lockdown’ discovered in one study that people are less likely to be hospitalised if they get infected with the omicron variant than if they had the Delta variant. His research shows a “moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalisation associated with the Omicron variant”.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh said that the number of omicron cases would have been higher already in Scotland if omicron had the same severity as the Delta variant.
Data from South Africa suggests that the new variant is 80 per cent less likely to cause people to be hospitalised than the previous variant.
Scientists are still unsure though how big a part vaccine immunity is playing in the latest figures. Scientists from the NICD commented: “It is difficult to disentangle the relative contribution of high levels of previous population immunity versus intrinsic lower virulence to the observed lower disease severity.”
Professor Ferguson commented: “You can see in London, we are getting a lot more people hospitalised. Not for very long, probably not with very severe illness.
“And that’s not a reflection of Omicron versus Delta — that was already true for Delta infections, that they’re less severe than they were last year because there’s a lot of immunity in the population.
“The challenge is, if there’s enough of them it still poses quite a challenge to the NHS. We’re not talking about anything like what we saw last year with over-flowing intensive care units and ventilator beds.”
He went on to add: “Our analysis shows evidence of a moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalisation associated with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant.
“However, this appears to be offset by the reduced efficacy of vaccines against infection with the Omicron variant.
“Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron virus, there remains the potential for health services to face increasing demand if Omicron cases continue to grow at the rate that has been seen in recent weeks.”
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