The new Omicron strain of the coronavirus “is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation when compared to” the earlier Delta variant of the coronavirus, according to a study of COVID-19 cases in Scotland by University of Edinburgh researchers. The study is based on hospitalization data and COVID-19 infections between November 23 and December 19.
These results from Scotland echo similar conclusions by South African researchers, who released a study last week finding that people with omicron were four-fifths less likely to be hospitalized than those infected with another strain of coronavirus, in the period between October 1 and December 6. Reuters reported that the study from South Africa also found “that people who were hospitalized with Omicron in October-November were 70 percent less likely to develop severe disease than those admitted with Delta between April and November.”
In additional good news, the Scottish researchers also found that booster shots of coronavirus vaccines are linked to a 60% reduction in symptomatic infections compared to just getting two vaccine doses.
“The study is good news. The two thirds reduction in hospitalisation of double vaccinated young people compared to Delta indicates that Omicron will be milder for more people,” said James Naismith of Oxford University. “There is now solid reason to favour a more optimistic outcome of Omicron in the UK than was feared.”
On the other hand, he said, “Although two thirds reduction is significant, Omicron can cause severe illness in the doubly vaccinated. Thus if Omicron continues to double every few days, it could generate many more hospitalisations than Delta from the double vaccinated population.”