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Risk of Hospitalization Halved with Omicron Compared with Delta, Study Finds | Coronavirus


People infected with Omicron were half the risk of being hospitalized than those with Delta, according to the work. The risk of being placed in intensive care was reduced by about 75%, and the risk of dying by more than 90%.

Among the more than 52,000 people infected with Omicron followed by this study, none needed a ventilator, compared to 11 people of the nearly 17,000 infected with Delta.

In addition, the median length of hospitalization was 1.5 days for Omicron, compared to nearly 5 days for Delta.

This analysis was conducted using data from the California hospital system of Kaiser Permanente, during the month of December 2021, when both variants were circulating widely.

These data reinforce those accumulated from populations in other countries, for example in South Africa or Great Britain. But also those which have shown – in animals or ex vivo (outside the human body) – that Omicron replicates more in the upper airways (nose, throat) than in the lungs, where severe forms of COVID start- 19.

Vaccine efficacy is reduced against Omicron

The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Kaiser Permanente, and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

The study took into account important parameters such as age, gender, past SARS-CoV-2 infections, vaccination status and comorbidities.

A quote from Rochelle Walensky, Director of CDC

The results thus show that Omicron is inherently less serious that Delta, and not only that people with more immunity (after a past infection or a vaccine) are now getting it, the study explains.

In addition, if this work noted a reduced effectiveness of the vaccines against infections linked to Omicron, the protection remained nonetheless substantial against the serious forms of the disease.

Still, Walensky stressed that Omicron’s very high contagiousness automatically led to a large number of hospitalizations, putting pressure on a healthcare system whose staff had already been strained for two years.

The country currently records an average of 750,000 new cases per day, and around 1,600 deaths daily.

More than 150,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States, a record.

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