(ORDO NEWS) — An analysis by South African scientists suggests that patients with the omicron strain are less at risk of hospitalization and severe Covid-19 compared to those infected with the delta variant. Nevertheless, it is still not recommended to draw unambiguous conclusions.
South African scientists from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, the Universities of the Witwatersrand, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town have said that patients infected with the omicron strain of coronavirus have about 80% lower risk of being hospitalized compared to the delta variant that took over the world in 2021…
The likelihood of developing a severe course of Covid-19, if a patient with omicron still did not avoid hospitalization, is reduced by 30%. The research results are published on the medRxiv.org preprint portal (hence, it has not been reviewed yet).
The authors compared data on local omicron infections between October and November with data on delta patients from April to November of this year. In total, 161,328 cases of Covid-19 were registered in South Africa from October 1 to December 6, of which a new strain was found in 29,721 people. The proportion of such patients increased from 3% at the beginning of October to 98% at the beginning of the first month of winter.
A preliminary analysis suggests a reduction in the risk of hospitalization among those infected with the omicron variant when compared with the delta strain. According to scientists, this can be partly explained by the high level of herd immunity (many were ill and vaccinated).
But it is better not to make hasty conclusions that the omicron is generally harmless, because the research results differ. For example, as shown by the analysis of Imperial College London, patients with the new variant are 15% less likely to go to the hospital and 40% less likely to need inpatient treatment – compared, again, with the delta strain. Reinfection reduces the risk of hospitalization by about 50-60% compared to primary infection.
Scientists warn that too little time has passed to accumulate enough data on the basis of which it would become clear about more serious outcomes – hospitalization in the intensive care unit or death.
“While the reduction in the risk of being admitted to hospital is encouraging, the likelihood of infection remains extremely high. Booster doses of the vaccine (revaccination. – Ed.) Continue to provide better protection against infection and hospitalization, “said Professor Azra Ghani of Imperial College London.
Questions about the virulence of the new SARS-CoV-2 strain, first identified in November in South Africa, are in the first place in the media today. According to WHO estimates, there are already cases of omicron infection in more than 105 countries (Russia is no exception). The authorities are trying to decide how to respond to the proliferation of this option.
The problem is that it is easier – in comparison with the previous strains – infecting not only non-immunized, but still ill and vaccinated, that is, bypasses antibodies. For example, in the USA and Denmark, the majority of patients with omicron are vaccinated.
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