People with omicron have lower risk of COVID-19 hospitalization, death

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In a new study from Kaiser Permanente, researchers found a reduced risk of hospitalization and death from Omicron even after controlling for growing population immunity levels.

People infected with Omicron were half as likely to be hospitalized, about 75% less likely to need intensive care, and around 90% less likely to die compared to those infected with the formerly dominant Delta variant.

Of some 52,000 people infected with Omicron, none ended up on a ventilator, compared to 11 people from nearly 17,000 with Delta.

Hospital stays lasted for a median of 1.5 days for Omicron compared to five days for Delta, and 90% of Omicron patients were discharged in three or fewer days.

In the study, the team examined data from nearly 70,000 COVID-positive people between November 30, 2021, and January 1, 2022, when both strains were circulating widely.

The findings build on accumulating population-level research from countries including South Africa and Britain, but also on animal and human tissue-based testing, which have found Omicron replicates better in the upper airways compared to the lungs.

The results thus suggest that Omicron is “intrinsically less severe than Delta,” and observed reductions in severe cases aren’t only the result of more people being vaccinated and infected over time.

In addition, while the study noted reduced vaccine efficacy against infection from Omicron, it also found substantial ongoing protection against severe outcomes.

The team warned that the results should not lead to complacency, since Omicron’s extreme transmissibility is still stretching the United States’ already over-extended health care system and its exhausted health workers.

The country is currently seeing an average of 750,000 cases a day—though that figure is soon expected to exceed a million—around 150,000 total COVID hospitalizations, and more than 1,600 daily deaths.

If you care about Covid, please read studies that weight loss may help prevent severe COVID-19, and it is better to get COVID vaccination in afternoon.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about why are some COVID cases more severe than others, and results showing that people infected with Omicron less likely to get Delta infection.

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