A new study by the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine has suggested that children under 5 infected with the COVID Omicron strain are less likely to have severe health outcomes than those infected with Delta, according to Science Daily.

The study findings, published Friday in JAMA Pediatrics, show that Omicron is 6 to 8 times more infectious than Delta. The severe health outcomes ranged from a 16% lower risk for ED visits to 85% less risk for mechanical ventilation. In addition, about 1.8% of children infected with the Omicron stain were hospitalized compared to 3.3% with Delta.

Researchers analyzed the electronic health records of more than 651,640 American children from September 2021 to January 2022. Of those, more than 22,772 children were infected with Omicron and over 66,000 children were infected when Delta.

The team looked at the clinical outcomes for those patients during a 14-day window following COVID-19 infection. They reviewed the factors such as ED visits, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and the use of mechanical ventilation.

Study author Prof. Pamela Davis said, “The major conclusion to our research was that many more children were infected with Omicron when compared to Delta, but the children who are infected are not impacted as severely as were children infected with the Delta variant. However, because there are so many more children infected, our hospitals were affected over the winter months by an influx of young children.”

Another researcher Prof. Rong Xu said, “We saw the number of hospitalizations within this age group skyrocket in January of this year because the infection rate of Omicron is about 10 to 15 times compared to that of the Delta variant.”

“Omicron is less severe than Delta, however, the reduction of the severity range in clinical outcomes is only 16 to 85%,” she added. “Furthermore, since so many unvaccinated children were infected, the long-term effects of COVID-19 infections on the brain, heart, immune systems and other organs of children remains unknown and worrisome.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges children aged 5 and above to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It also recommends that people aged 12 and above who are fully vaccinated should receive a booster shot. Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors in counties with low or medium “COVID-19 Community Level,” according to the CDC’s updated guidelines.