A preliminary study conducted in the United States and released on Wednesday (12) with nearly 70,000 people infected with Covid-19 showed a significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and death from the micron variant.
The study found that people with Omicron were half as likely to be hospitalized, about 75% less likely to need intensive care, and 90% less likely to die than people with the pre-dominant delta variant.
Of the approximately 50,000 people with Omicron, none required a respirator.
Hospitalization took an average of 1.5 days with the micron compared to five days with the delta, and 90% of patients with the micron were discharged in three days or less.
The analysis was performed using data from the Kaiser Permanente Hospital System in Southern California, which served about 4.7 million people between December 1, 2021 and January 2, 2022, when both strains circulated widely.
The results – based on population-level research from countries like South Africa and the UK, as well as animal and cell tests – suggest that Omicron replicates better in the upper respiratory tract than in the lungs.
Less dangerous and more worrying
“This study monitored important key factors such as age, gender, previous SARS infection from the second coronavirus, previous vaccination and comorbidities,” CDC Director Rochelle Walinsky told reporters Wednesday (12).
Thus, the results suggest that Omicron is “essentially less dangerous than Delta,” and the reductions observed in severe cases are not only a result of more people being vaccinated and infected over time, according to the paper.
While the study noted a decrease in the vaccine’s efficacy against omicron infection, it also found significant ongoing protection against severe cases.
Walinsky cautioned that the findings do not justify the lack of care, as the extreme susceptibility to micron-transmissibility stresses the already overwhelmed US health care system and overwhelmed specialists.
This new paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was written by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Kaiser Permanente, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Currently, the United States is recording an average of 750,000 cases per day, a total of about 150,000 hospital admissions for Covid and more than 1,600 deaths per day.
President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, predicted Tuesday that “Omicron, with its exceptional and unprecedented degree of proficiency in transmissibility, will eventually catch up to nearly everyone.”
But he added that once the country is out of its current wave, it will move into a future of coexistence with the virus, with vaccines that will reduce serious illnesses for most people and effective treatments available for the most vulnerable.
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