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Hospitalization risk lower for Omicron patients: US study

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The study says that the odds of dying from Omicron are about 90% less than from the Delta version. (file)

California:

A preliminary US study of nearly 70,000 COVID-positive people showed that Omicron significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization and death, even after controlling for increasing population immunity levels.

According to the paper, those infected with Omicron were half as likely to be hospitalized, about 75 percent less likely to need intensive care, and nearly 90 percent less likely to die than those previously infected with the major Delta variant.

None of the nearly 50,000 people infected with Omicron were on ventilators.

Hospital stays for Omicron last an average of 1.5 days, compared to five days for Delta, and 90 percent of Omicron patients are discharged in three or fewer days.

The analysis was conducted on data from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Hospital System, which serves a population of about 4.7 million people between December 1, 2021 and January 2, 2022, when both strains were widespread.

The findings are based on accumulating population-level research from countries including South Africa and the UK, but also on animal and cell-based testing, which have found that Omicron replicates better in the upper airway than in the lungs.

The new paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“This study controlled for important key parameters such as age, gender, prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, prior vaccination and comorbidities,” CDC Director Rochelle Valensky told reporters on a briefing call on Wednesday.

The results thus suggest that Omicron is “intrinsically less severe than Delta,” and the reduction in severe cases seen is not only a result of more people being vaccinated and infected over time, the paper said.

Furthermore, while the study downplayed the vaccine’s effectiveness against infection with Omicron, it also found substantial sustained protection against serious consequences.

Valensky cautioned that the results should not lead to complacency, as Omicron’s excessive communicability is still dragging the United States’ already expanding health care system and its exhausted health workers.

The country is currently seeing an average of 750,000 cases a day – although that figure is expected to exceed a million soon – with nearly 150,000 total Covid hospitalizations, and over 1,600 daily deaths.

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, predicted Tuesday that “Omicron, with his extraordinary, unprecedented level of communication ability, will eventually find out about everyone.”

But he added that as the country emerges from its current wave, it will transition to a future of living with the virus, with COVID vaccines controlling severe disease for the majority and effective treatments available for the most vulnerable.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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