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Studies suggest Omicron variant is much less severe than other COVID variants

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Three new studies in South Africa, England, and Scotland show that those infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus typically fare better in comparison to those infected with other strains. The data released this week suggest omicron patients are significantly less likely to be hospitalized. 

The study from South Africa, released on Tuesday, indicated that people who contract the omicron variant are 80 percent less likely to be admitted to a hospital when compared with other strains.

Authors of the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, warned that the percentage could be inflated due to increased immunity among the population as a result of either vaccination or prior infection. 

The research was published by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and it suggested a lowered risk of hospitalization and serious illness in omicron patients when compared with individuals who contracted the delta variant.

Tracking the two months through November, the data exhibited that individuals with omicron were 70 percent less likely to experience severe illness. Among those who did have to be hospitalized, though, the risk of severe disease did not vary from other strains. The authors also controlled for factors associated with more serious illness like age and comorbidities.

Studies conducted in Scotland and England seemed to back up the findings from South Africa. Authors of the Scottish report wrote, “These early national data suggest that Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation when compared to Delta.”

They continued, “Whilst offering the greatest protection against Delta, the third/booster dose of vaccination offers substantial additional protection against the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 for Omicron when compared to [greater than or equal to] 25 weeks post second vaccine dose.” 

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