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Reduced hospitalization risk, shorter stays for Omicron patients: US study

Agence France-Presse
Reduced hospitalization risk, shorter stays for Omicron patients: US study
A man is tested for COVID-19 at a free testing site in Farragut Square in downtown on January 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. According to a recent letter from the D.C. Hospital Association (DCHA) to the city's government, the strain on the District's health care system is greater now than at any time since the pandemic began.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images / AFP

WASHINGTON, United States — A preliminary US study of nearly 70,000 Covid positive people showed a substantially 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 percent less likely to need intensive care, and around 90 percent less likely to die compared to those infected with the formerly dominant Delta variant, according to the paper.

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 percent of Omicron patients were 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 around 4.7 million 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The new paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was carried out by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).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, sex, prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, prior vaccination and comorbidities," CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on a briefing call Wednesday.

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, the paper said.

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

Walensky 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.

President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci predicted Tuesday that "Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody."

But he added that after the country emerged from its current wave, it would transition towards a future of living with the virus, with Covid vaccines moderating severe disease for the majority and effective treatments available for the most vulnerable.

COVID-19 VARIANT OMICRON VARIANT
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

Follow this page for updates on the new COVID-19 variant, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa. Photo courtesy of the The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

The Philippines reports the detection of 492 additional cases of the hyper-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Of the total, 332 are locals, while 160 are returning overseas Filipinos.

This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the country. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

January 19, 2022 - 8:36am

France's daily reported new coronavirus cases broke a new record on Tuesday with an average of over 300,000 a day in the past week, with the headline figure approaching half a million.

The latest data issued by Public Health France showed that there were 464,769 new cases in the last 24-hour period as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread unabated.

A day earlier, 102,144 people had tested positive for the virus. — AFP

January 18, 2022 - 11:29am

China's postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.

China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail "as soon as possible" and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.

The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from "countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk" and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination. — AFP

January 14, 2022 - 11:45am

Preliminary data from a trial shows AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine increased antibodies against the coronavirus Omicron variant for a booster dose.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical reports that the response against both Omicron and Delta variants was seen in those who received the booster while initially vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca shot or another mRNA vaccine.

January 11, 2022 - 11:09am

Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, citing results of the latest genome sequencing on January 3.

The newest "variant of concern" has surpassed the Delta variant, believed to be behind the second wave of the pandemic in March last year.

Omicron is even more transmissible than the Delta variant.

FULL STORY: Omicron dominant COVID-19 variant in latest genome sequencing — DOH

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