A new study of almost 70,000 Covid patients in California has shown that Omicron causes fewer severe diseases than other coronavirus varieties. This is consistent with similar results from South Africa, Britain, and Denmark as well as a host a experiments on animals.
Omicron infections were half the likely to send people into hospital than Delta. The researchers found that none of the 52,000 Omicron patients that were identified from electronic medical records at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, a large healthcare system, used a ventilator.
“It’s truly a viral factor that accounts for reduced severity,” said Dr. Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was an author of the study, which was posted online on Tuesday and has not yet been published in a scientific journal.
U.S. hospitals are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases despite Omicron’s less severe virulence. Dr. Lewnard stated that this was due to the variant spreading like wildfire. In the United States, there are now more than 730,000 people testing positive each day on average, nearly three times as many as the peak last winter.
“Since it’s more transmissible, there will just at some point be a lot of hospitalizations that inevitably occur,” Dr. Lewnard said.
Recent weeks have seen reports from Britain and other countries that Omicron is less likely to be hospitalized. Dr. Lewnard, along with his colleagues, began to analyze electronic records of Southern California’s Kaiser Permanente, which serves 4.7 Million people, after the Omicron variant became known.
They tested 69,279 coronavirus-positive patients from Nov. 30 through Jan. 1. Three-quarters contained the Omicron variant and the rest were Delta.
The researchers followed the positive people to see if they ended in the hospital. The researchers excluded patients with incidental Covid who presented at hospitals with other complaints. They then tested positive for coronavirus after arriving.
Omicron reduced hospitalization rates by half compared to Delta. People who were admitted to Omicron’s hospital stayed longer. The Omicron variant reduced hospital stays by more that three days, which is a 70% reduction compared to Delta.
Treyteen of the Delta infected patients died while only one Omicron victim did.
Scientists have found evidence that Omicron is less serious than previously believed, but it has been difficult to explain why. Omicron is more severe than previous waves of Omicron infections. This could be because Omicron infected people have stronger immune defenses.
Researchers in other countries have found that Omicron can be prevented by vaccinating people earlier with other variants. Vaccination is also a good option to protect yourself.
“Vaccines are quite helpful,” Dr. Lewnard said. He and his colleagues discovered that Californians who were vaccinated were 64 percent to 73 per cent less likely to be admitted than those who were not.
Omicron was not more likely to cause hospitalizations among people who were not vaccinated than Delta.
Dr. Lewnard stated that Omicron was fundamentally less serious after an additional analysis. Omicron is known to infect cells in the upper lungs but not the lungs. This could explain why it has milder effects.
Source: NY Times