New UK research has found that the Omicron variant appears to be milder than Delta, with a 20% to 25% reduced chance of a hospital visit and a 40% lower risk of getting hospitalized overnight, according to The Guardian.
Two studies published Wednesday pointed out a relatively lower risk of hospitalization with Omicron, with the scientists describing the new findings as a “qualified good news story.”
Prof. Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London (ICL) analyzed hospitalizations and vaccination records among all PCR-confirmed COVID cases in England from December 1 to 14. He and his team analyzed 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta.
They found that the risk of hospital visits was 20% to 25% lower with Omicron, compared with Delta. The team also found that the risk of hospitalization for at least one night was 40% to 45% lower with Omicron.
In addition, for people who were neither previously infected nor vaccinated, the risk of hospitalization with Omicron was about 11% less.
The new findings suggest that there is “a moderate reduction” in the hospitalization risk associated with Omicron compared with Delta, but Prof. Ferguson said, “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,” he explained.
The ICL also study found that people who have had a previous COVID infection had a 50% reduced risk of hospitalization from Omicron.
In another separate study, Omicron cases in Scotland pointed to an even greater reduction in the risk of hospitalization than Delta, per The Guardian.
Using hospital data from November 23 to December 19, the study concluded that there is a 70% lower risk of hospitalization with Omicron than Delta.
Dr. Jim McMenamin, a consultant epidemiologist of NHS National Services Scotland, described the finding as a “qualified good news story,” but said that it was “important we don’t get ahead of ourselves.”
He explained, “The potentially serious impact of Omicron on a population cannot be underestimated. And a smaller proportion of a much greater number of cases that might ultimately require treatment can still mean a substantial number of people who may experience severe Covid infections that could lead to potential hospitalization.”